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Touch of Tevez takes United to the brink
Carlos Tevez played like a drain all afternoon then handed Manchester United an almost certain 10th Premier League title with two minutes to spare. For 88 minutes, this game appeared to be setting up the mother of all twists to the season’s tale. Chelsea could have gone a point above United, with two games left, by winning at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, at which point unflappable Avram Grant would probably have been crowned manager of best replica canada goose jacket the year.
Blackburn were worth three points canada goose coat – hybridge lite for 88 minutes too, matching United in all areas and only coming under siege in the closing seconds. It was not the most convincing display by United, but, as ever, they kept going and, when Tevez scored from a late corner, the shared point meant United will stay ahead of Chelsea even if they lose Saturday’s showdown. A week ago, Sir Alex Ferguson was saying his team needed to win their next three games to win the league. It might take a little while longer now online shop, but the odds are they will still win it.
The return of Nemanja Vidic meant United could field a full-strength side, with the exception of Edwin van der Sar, who is nursing a groin injury. That said, it is debatable whether Paul Scholes would get the nod over Anderson if Sir Alex’s life depended on it, and the Brazilian might be back in Barcelona on Wednesday. Likewise, Owen Hargreaves, who may or may not have a slight hamstring problem. There is absolutely no suggestion Ferguson put out a weakened side, it is just that United’s first-choice XI is quite difficult to identify when everyone is fit, as the manager has admitted.
Scholes inadvertently created the first chance for Blackburn, giving the ball away to Roque Santa Cruz on the edge of his own area and obliging Tomasz Kuszczak to make an untidy save from Jason Roberts. The way Roberts tumbled brought shouts for a penalty, although the goalkeeper played the ball with his foot before his bodycheck flattened the black friday 2013 canada goose sale striker.
United should have taken the lead after 11 minutes, when Wayne Rooney gave Ryan Nelsen the slip and produced an immaculate low cross from the byline, only for Tevez to fail to make any useful contact on the six-yard line in front of goal. It was the sort of miss that looked likely to prove costly and, even though United looked capable of producing opportunities at will, they went behind 10 minutes later to the sort of goal that drives managers up the wall. Under only slight pressure from Roberts when a long throw from Morten Gamst Pedersen reached the penalty area, Vidic and Rio Ferdinand conspired to make a present of the ball to Santa Cruz, who has not reached 20 goals for the season by passing up clear sights of the target from 12 yards out.
Like the miss from Tevez, it was not a moment in the game that was marked with the stamp of champions and, when David Bentley forced a save from Kuszczak with a dipping shot from 25 yards, it appeared Blackburn were beginning to enjoy themselves.
Rooney was denied a penalty when Rob Styles failed to notice that Steven Reid took his legs rather than the ball just before half time, but there was no chance of anyone missing the ludicrous lunge on Christopher Samba that earned the wound-up striker a booking minutes later. United failed to fashion another chance from open play before half time, although Cristiano Ronaldo forced a save from Brad Friedel with a header from a corner.
Nani replaced Ryan Giggs at the interval and almost immediately received the Reid treatment, the defender picking up a caution for hacking at the winger’s heels. Ronaldo attempted to inject some fizz into the free-kick, but it bounced harmlessly off the wall, which is more than could be said for Ronaldo a minute later, when he bounced spectacularly, and somewhat painfully, off a surprisingly robust Pedersen. After a few more theatrical rolls than were strictly necessary, Ronaldo recovered sufficiently to crash a shot against Friedel’s left-hand upright just after an hour and the goalkeeper also had to react smartly to prevent a ricochet from Nelsen crossing his line.
As the minutes ticked away, it was not all United by any means. Santa Cruz headed just over and Pedersen almost scored with a shot from a tight angle that flashed across Kuszczak and the face of goal. Rooney was furious when Nelsen caught him in the back and somehow earned a Blackburn free-kick, though the real cause of United’s frustration was their inability to create anything promising in front of goal. A few crosses were aimed in the direction of Tevez and Rooney, but Samba and Nelsen easily saw them off.
Ten minutes from the end, Rooney set up Ronaldo and saw Blackburn block the shot, and when Tevez swivelled onto the loose ball, Friedel held the shot on the line at the second attempt.
When Friedel denied Rooney and then John O’Shea in the final minutes, it began to look as if buy canada goose parka uk it might not be United’s day. Then, from a corner, Scholes leapt to send a header goalwards and Tevez produced a second header to turn the ball past Friedel. Cue delirium at the Darwen End. Grant’s reaction can only be guessed at, but it was probably no more than one syllable.
THE FANS’ PLAYER RATINGS AND VERDICT
Paul McGarry, Observer reader buy canada goose jacket london I thought we’d done just enough. buy canada goose parka cheap I was a little surprised with United’s physical approach – if Rooney had been Robbie Savage, he’d have been off – while I was amused by Ferdinand, dancing round like a kid not allowed to stay up and watch telly when decisions went against him. Friedel buy canada goose jacket ebay was everything canada goose coat – kensington you’d expect, while Santa Cruz was our best outfielder. The formation, with him on the right, was odd, but it seemed to work. It’s bittersweet, as the title is between one marketing brand and another one. But in points for pounds spent I think we’re probably top of the league.
The fan’s player ratings Friedel are there any canada goose outlet stores 9; Reid 7, Samba 8, Nelsen 7, Warnock 8; Santa Cruz 9, Emerton 8, Vogel 8 (Mokoena n/a), Pedersen 8; Bentley 8, Roberts 8
Pete Boyle, RedIssue.co.uk terrace songsmith I really thought we weren’t going to buy canada goose jacket online canada score – Friedel is a quality keeper and I thought he’d deny us. I didn’t mind how Boro played against us, they have a real go at everyone, but Rovers rolled over at Liverpool then played like that. Still, we got the goal at the death and, though Chelsea have a glimmer of hope, they could have been a lot closer. Some criticised Fergie for his selection, but we had enough players out there who could have won the game and sometimes you just have to trust the manager. The end of the season is going to be hard to handle if it’s as tight as it was in 1999.
The fan’s player ratings Kuszczak 6; Brown 6 (O’Shea n/a), Vidic 6, Ferdinand 6, Evra 6; Ronaldo 7, Carrick 6, Scholes 6, Giggs 6 (Nani 6); Rooney 7 (Park n/a), Tevez 7