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Manchester United are the League Champions again!

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Blackburn Rovers 1 - 1 Manchester United

Wayne Rooney secured Manchester United’s 19th domestic championship with a controversial penalty against Blackburn that leaves the Ewood Park club facing a final-day battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League. The point that United required to confirm the title came courtesy of Rooney’s 70th minute spot-kick, which was only awarded following a lengthy discussion between referee Phil Dowd and his assistant, Andy Halliday, following a foul by goalkeeper Paul Robinson and Javier Hernandez.


The discussion appeared to centre on whether the ball had gone out of play before the foul had been committed, but Dowd ultimately pointed to the spot and set in motion the decisive moment in United’s title success.


But although United now move ahead of Liverpool in terms of titles won, they stumbled over the line after Blackburn, given the lead by Brett Emerton, took the lead and proceeded to carve out the better chances.


Last Sunday’s 2-1 victory against Chelsea at Old Trafford had moved United six points clear of Carlo Ancelotti’s team and left Ferguson’s players with the seemingly routine task of collecting a point from their final two games to clinch the title.


The reality was that everybody bar those with Blackburn allegiances – and perhaps even a few of those – expected United to complete the formalities at Ewood Park. Nothing is ever guaranteed until it is achieved, however, and those United fans with ‘19’ banners in Darwen End risked tempting fate. The 19th title was within touching distance, but as United arrived at Blackburn, work still had to be done to secure it.


United certainly began like a team determined to complete the job and Nani almost opened the scoring on three minutes when he headed Wayne Rooney’s cross against the crossbar. But despite United’s early threat and dominance of possession, it was all too pedestrian and half-hearted. There was an air of the players expecting something to happen, but Blackburn needed points for survival and they quickly sensed an opportunity to take advantage and achieve their own objective of Premier League survival.


United’s first warning sign came on 10 minutes, when Rovers defender Chris Samba volleyed over the crossbar from a half-cleared corner.


Kuszczak then gave a glimpse of his eccentricity when he almost gifted Jason Roberts a goal on 17 minutes after realising at the last second that he could not pick up Michael Carrick’s back-pass. The Pole fluffed his kicked clearance and was grateful to Nemanja Vidic for hacking the ball to safety. Two minutes later, though, the rattled Kuszczak was at fault as Emerton opened the scoring with a left-foot strike at the far post.


Kuszczak had initially left his goal to chase down a ball inside his penalty area, but he stopped halfway on realising that Martin Olsson would

beat him to it. Backtracking and racing back to goal, Kuszczak was all at sea as Emerton stroked the ball into the net for his third goal of the season. Television replays suggested the ball may have gone out for a goalkick before Olsson crossed, but it was inconclusive.


What now for United? An equaliser would set them back on course for the title, but there was little sign of it as Blackburn grew in confidence.


Rooney floated a chip over the crossbar and Nani blazed a shot over the bar in the closing minutes of the first-half as United attempted to draw level.


The second-half did not begin much better for United, who lacked the energy and determination they displayed against Chelsea.


Ryan Giggs had a goalbound shot blocked by Phil Jones on the hour, but Blackburn came closest to scoring again when Olsson rattled Kuszczak’s far post with a header from Emerton’s 65th minute cross.


The turning point for United came on 70 minutes, however, when Giggs’s pass to Hernandez led to the Mexican being fouled by Rovers goalkeeper Paul Robinson inside the six yard box. Contact was clearly made by the former England keeper, but the ball appeared to have run out of play before the foul was committed. Referee Dowd consulted with assistant Halliday, however, while surrounding by the haranguing players from both teams.Eventually, after a lengthy discussion, Dowd pointed to the penalty spot and Rooney beat Robinson from 12 yards to equalise.


Ecstacy for United, but a hammer blow for Blackburn, who must now go to Wolves on the final day of the season next Sunday with their survival hopes still in the balance.


From: The Telegraph

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