Morten brace sinks United
By Adam Marshall. Last Updated: September 24, 2005 3:38pm
Blackburn Rovers recorded their first win at Manchester United in The Premiership with Morten Gamst Pedersen scoring both goals for Mark Hughes's men in a 2-1 win.
Hughes returned to his former club to inflict a massive blow to any title pretensions United may have had as Sir Alex Ferguson made the puzzling decision to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench until the second half.
Rovers led at the break courtesy of Pedersen's free kick and, although Ruud van Nistelrooy equalised after Brad Friedel spilled Rooney's shot, a mistake by Paul Scholes allowed the Norwegian to hand the points to Blackburn.
Always a threat on the breakaway, fielding more strikers than the home side at the start, Blackburn had early chances through Paul Dickov and Craig Bellamy, before Alan Smith tested Friedel from long range with United's first real attempt on goal.
Scholes shot wastefully wide from a Cristiano Ronaldo cross and Smith also sent an effort over the top before van Nistelrooy swivelled but dragged his shot off target as the hosts found some momentum.
Nevertheless, Rovers remained a threat with Paul Dickov's diving header saved smartly by Edwin van der Sar following Bellamy's adroit centre. Michael Gray then brought the best out of the Dutchman as Rovers showed they were in no mood to lie down.
David Bentley should have scored when in the clear after more tenacious work from Bellamy but it mattered little as Pedersen's 33rd minute set-piece crept straight in after Kieron Richardson was perhaps harshly pulled up for a foul on Dickov.
Makeshift captain Scholes should have levelled matters soon after the restart but Friedel saved well with his legs and van Nistelrooy somehow contrived to miss a sitter at the far post from Ronaldo's free kick.
Rooney was thrown on to inject some impetus to United's attack and the former Everton forward displayed a marvellous touch to set himself up for a shot that Friedel could only parry to van Nistelrooy, who rounded the American keeper before tapping into an empty net.
Van Nistelrooy then tried an ambitious long-range attempt when he had better options and Ferdinand, dreadful throughout, could only screw a chip behind the goal with players queuing up in the middle, begging for an opportunity.
It was Scholes who was guilty of awful play with nine minutes left, inexplicably presenting the ball to Gray on the edge of his own box. The former Sunderland defender fed Pedersen, once a target for The Red Devils, who inflicted maximum damage with an unerring finish that speared past van der Sar and rocketed into the net.
There was little hope of below-par United getting back into the game as they slip further behind imperious champions Chelsea. Rooney flashed wide after van Nistelrooy collided with Friedel and then headed tamely from substitute Ryan Giggs's cross in injury time.
Hughes returned to upset his former club and the natives will be growing restless at Old Trafford, if not purely at the poor results then more probably at the manager's belief in a tactical system that simply is not working.
Manchester United v Blackburn Rovers player ratings
|Manchester Utd||Team Name||Blackburn Rovers|
|5||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||10|
|17||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||0|
|14||Total Fouls Conceded||15|
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
|13||West Bromwich Albion||14||15|
|17||West Ham United||14||13|