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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Premiership, Manchester Uniuted 4-1 Blackburn

Scholes fires Manchester United closer to title
A moment of genius from Paul Scholes sparked a magnificent second-half revival from Manchester United which allowed them to move another mighty stride closer to completing their Premiership title dream with a 4-1 home win over Blackburn.

United central defender Nemanja Vidic was forced off with a broken collarbone and the home side then fell behind when Matt Derbyshire slotted home. But United dug deep and Paul Scholes slalomed into space and fired in before Michael Carrick sidefooted in.

Park Ji-Sung pounced to add a third and an Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer tap-in completed United's comeback to leave them needing five wins for the title.

Scholes' goal came from a rare Blackburn mistake as defender Christopher Samba dallied on the ball on the edge of the Rovers area and was stripped of it by Scholes. The former England midfield player still had much work to day but skipped past Ryan Nelsen and Stephen Warnock before beating the American keeper with a superbly-driven shot.

Manchester United, clearly sensing victory, pressed on. In the 66th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo might have edged United in front as David Dunn gifted him a chance only for Friedel to make a superb save as the Portuguese winger bore down on goal. Even more incredibly, Ryan Giggs had an open goal before him as he met Ronaldo's 67th minute left-wing cross but battered his shot against the cross-bar with such force that it rebounded to safety.

Cristiano Ronaldo once more caused panic inside the Rovers box, his cut-back ran to Carrick, who had enough composure virtually to pass the ball into the same corner Scholes had launched his shot into earlier. Even with victory within their grasp, United refused to relent and when Friedel failed to hold a stinging Ronaldo free-kick seven minutes from time, Park raced in to tap home.

There was still time for one more too as Park's cross evaded Rooney but fell nicely for substitute Solskjaer, who finished off with ease.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson:
"The intensity of our game was fantastic but so was the support - that put us over the line.

"The players were all talking about it in the dressing room - they couldn't believe the volume of noise.

"The great thing we showed was the composure to not lose our heads, keep our nerve and keep on playing and by doing that we kept on making chances."

Blackburn manager Mark Hughes:
"United will not be denied now, I think they will win the title comfortably.

"For 60 minutes we were really in the game. The crowd were anxious and I felt we were going to capitalise on it.

"But they were able to galvanise themselves and show why they are champions-elect. This year, they have played the best football."

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic (O'Shea 28), Heinze, Ronaldo (Solskjaer 84), Carrick, Scholes, Park, Giggs (Smith 84), Rooney.
Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Richardson.

Booked: Heinze.

Goals: Scholes 61, Carrick 73, Park 83, Solskjaer 90.

Blackburn: Friedel, Emerton, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Dunn, Kerimoglu (Peter 74), Mokoena, Pedersen, Derbyshire, McCarthy (Roberts 69).
Subs Not Used: Enckelman, Nonda, Henchoz.

Booked: Dunn, Pedersen, Emerton.

Goals: Derbyshire 29.

Premiership Manchester United 4-1 Blackburn highlights and goals: