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Barclays Premier League

Ewood Park (ATT 26,532) 2nd April 2012 - Kick off 20:00 Ref: H Webb

Blackburn Blackburn Rovers vs Manchester United Man Utd

ft

Man Utd 2

A Valencia (81)
A Young (86)

Sky Sports 1 HD

United leave it late at Rovers

Ferguson's men go five points clear at the top

Last Updated: 02/04/12 10:44pm

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Manchester United stretched their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points after late goals from Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young downed Blackburn 2-0 at Ewood Park.

Man of the match Grant Hanley produced a diligent display for the hosts and David De Gea pulled off some fine saves but goalscorer Antonio Valencia gets the nod from us for a superb goal and an assist just minutes later to inspire United's victory. Tackle of the match Rio Ferdinand came to the rescue to deny Yakubu with a crucial challenge as the Blackburn striker tried to latch onto Marcus Olsson's cross at the near post in the second half. Save of the match United goalkeeper De Gea proved his talent once again with two fingertip saves in quick succession on the stroke of half-time to deny Olsson and Hanley. Chance of the match Javier Hernandez looked certain to have scored from less than six yards in the first half but his effort rebounded off the base of a post and Robinson managed to snatch it to safety. Talking point Have United all but extinguished Manchester City's title hopes? Can Blackburn still sidestep the drop despite the defeat?

Relegation-threatened Rovers contained Sir Alex Ferguson's men for the majority of Monday night's clash but came undone in the dying minutes as the title-chasers proved too strong.

Valencia picked up a Rafael pass and curled home a stunning right-footed shot to break the deadlock, leaving Blackburn goalkeeper Paul Robinson with no chance.

He then played creator five minutes from time as he fed Ashley Young, who skilfully tucked a second just inside the post.

United's local rivals Manchester City now have a mountain to climb if they are to beat the Red Devils to the title, while at the other end of the table struggling Rovers have slipped into the relegation zone on goal difference.

Having celebrated winning title number 19 in the corresponding fixture last term, United were ready to party again, believing a 20th was on the way.

And for 20 minutes it seemed the United players were ready to sweep Blackburn away on the tidal wave of support.

Threat

Valencia was an ever-present threat on the right flank and, whilst Wayne Rooney was operating from a position both wider and deeper than his most threatening, Javier Hernandez's movement caused Blackburn further concern.

The Mexican had already come close once when he nipped in at the near post to meet another low Valencia cross.

From less than six yards, it seemed a certain goal.

But somehow, Hernandez's effort came back off the base of a post and before the rebound bounced in, Paul Robinson had turned round and grabbed it.

As United poured forward and Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick found plenty of space in front of the Rovers' back four, it seemed just a matter of time before the visitors opened their account.

Carrick curled a shot over and had a penalty claim turned down.

Against his former club, Phil Jones misdirected a header wide, as did Patrice Evra.

Blackburn took heart from this unexpected reprieve and, buoyed by a combination of their excellent record in this fixture and two wins from their last three games, advanced themselves.

It was after a particularly dire performance in the Old Trafford encounter between these sides on New Year's Eve that David De Gea was axed.

Such has been the dramatic improvement since then, though, that it was not much of a surprise when the Spain Under-21 star tipped a Junior Hoilett effort over.

Then, in a frantic final minute before the break, both Marcus Olsson and Grant Hanley - Blackburn's Old Trafford match-winner - were repelled.

It marked a change in attitude from the hosts, who continued to push forward with gusto when the teams re-emerged.

Scott Dann glanced a header wide, top scorer Yakubu wasted a couple of decent opportunities and Rio Ferdinand had to rescue De Gea who, after all that had gone before, blotted his copybook by spilling Morten Gamst Pedersen's thunderous effort.

After shock wins for Wigan and QPR against the Premier League's so-called giants over the past fortnight, Blackburn thought they had put themselves in line for another when Pedersen rasped home from 20 yards.

The home supporters were deflated, though, as it was ruled the ball had just crossed the line for a goal-kick before Steven Nzonzi pulled it back.

Heroics

More heroics from Robinson to cut out a low Rooney cross in the middle of a crowd of bodies set Blackburn on their way again.

Had Ferdinand not managed to get to Yakubu in the nick of time, the Nigerian would surely have touched home Marcus Olsson's low cross at the near post.

United were starting to get desperate. But not for long.

Valencia has missed so much of this season through injury but there is a strong argument that he is the man of their campaign.

With time running out, it was the Ecuador wide-man who struck, drilling a shot past Robinson after darting into the box.

Young added another before the end with a neat finish from the edge of the box which just rubbed it in.

Blackburn RoversTeam StatisticsManchester United
0Goals2
01st Half Goals0
4Shots on Target5
5Shots off Target5
2Blocked Shots3
2Corners10
11Fouls5
0Offsides1
1Yellow Cards1
0Red Cards0
71.3Passing Success91.6
15Tackles15
60Tackles Success73.3
26.7Possession73.3
42.2Territorial Advantage57.8
254Total Passes701
14Total Crosses46
143Lost Balls152
39Recoveries49
27.31st Half Poss.72.7
25.92nd Half Poss.74.1

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Table

Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 12 32
2 Southampton 12 26
3 Manchester City 12 24
4 Manchester United 12 19
5 Newcastle United 12 19
6 West Ham United 12 18
7 Swansea City 12 18
8 Arsenal 12 17
9 Everton 12 17
10 Tottenham Hotspur 12 17
11 Stoke City 12 15
12 Liverpool 12 14
13 West Bromwich Albion 12 13
14 Sunderland 12 13
15 Crystal Palace 12 12
16 Aston Villa 12 12
17 Hull City 12 11
18 Leicester City 12 10
19 Burnley 12 10
20 Queens Park Rangers 12 8

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