United claim title 19
Rooney equaliser from the spot earns record league success
By James Riach. Last Updated: May 14, 2011 9:59pm
Rooney is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring the penalty
Manchester United clinched the Premier League title as they came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 at Blackburn.
Their 19th league triumph was almost assured before kick-off at Ewood Park but the point means they are now seven above Chelsea who have just two games left to play.
Brett Emerton opened the scoring for relegation-threatened Rovers, capitalising on nervous goalkeeping from Tomasz Kuszczak by turning home Martin Olsson's cross in the 20th minute.
Rovers had a chance to go two up but Olsson's header came back off the post after the break, before Javier Hernandez was brought down by Paul Robinson inside the area.
Wayne Rooney stepped up to take the 73rd minute penalty, and he slammed the ball into the back of the net, sending Robinson the wrong way to cue wild celebrations at the final whistle.
United being behind at half-time simply was not in the script. The visitors had played with the confidence of a team who felt they were about to become champions, stroking the ball around efficiently and creating plenty of space around the Rovers box. But that killer ball was missing.
After Nani had thudded a close-range header against the bar with only three minutes on the clock, United just could not find their range.
Nani cut a shot past the near-post, Ryan Giggs brought an excellent save out of Robinson and Rooney's chip sailed narrowly over.
United actually looked less likely to score as that opening period went on.
This would not have been too bad if Blackburn were scoreless too.
However, a combination of their perilous league position and being piqued at having their own position completely overlooked in the scramble to acclaim the men from Old Trafford, they approached their task with a fierce sense of determination.
Christopher Samba had already been slightly unlucky that Phil Dowd had ruled his excellent effort out for a foul on Nemanja Vidic when Emerton drifted a cross-shot to the far-post.
Kuszczak tried to push the ball away from danger but succeeded only in keeping it in play, which allowed Olsson to retrieve it.
After exchanging passes with Junior Hoilett, Olsson crossed to the far post where Emerton finished with an excellent first-time effort.
It nearly got even worse for United when Michel Salgado's cross from the other side of the pitch dropped nicely for Olsson, whose shot was disappointingly off-target.
However, Ferguson must have been questioning the wisdom of his only concession to United's position, offering 40-year-old Edwin van der Sar a rare break, as Kuszczak had twice almost been caught in possession, having dwelt on routine back passes for far too long.
Quite apart from putting United's celebrations on hold, it also highlighted just what a tough job Ferguson faces in making sure the veteran Dutchman's replacement is a worthy successor.
Hernandez has already proved his value to the Red Devils cause. The Mexican was not having one of his better days though, failing to collect a Ryan Giggs' through ball that would have sent him clear of the Blackburn defence.
More weak goalkeeping from Kuszczak forced Rio Ferdinand into a rushed clearance before Olsson nodded an Emerton cross against the post with the United keeper nowhere.
Another Emerton cross led to Ferdinand getting rather too close to heading into his own net for the central defender's liking.
The hesitancy Kuszczak created had spread through the United defence. Normally the strongest of partnerships, Vidic and Ferdinand crashed into each other as they tried to complete a routine interception on halfway.
Something needed to go United's way. Robinson's rashness provided it. The former England keeper complained bitterly at the outcome but it is hard to imagine any striker not going down in such circumstances.
Blackburn were angry. Not angry enough to warrant caution being thrown to the wind in an attempt to win though.Their top-flight survival fight will go down to the last day, when United will receive the Premier League trophy as the most successful team in English league history.
|Blackburn Rovers||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||2|
|4||Shots off Target||5|
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|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|