Sunday, November 1, 2009

United Strike Down Rovers

Sunday, November 1, 2009
Man Utd 2-0 Blackburn Rovers

Manchester United bounced back from last weekend’s defeat against Liverpool with a comfortable win over Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford. After a goalless first half Dimitar Berbatov opened the scoring before Wayne Rooney made the game safe to send the champions back into second spot.

The champions welcomed Sam Allardyce’s men but had to make do without the injured quartet of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher and with Paul Scholes left on the bench.

Yet the champions endured a frustrating first half against a disciplined Rovers side missing Jason Roberts with swine ‘flu but able to recall Christopher Samba and David Dunn who had both recovered from the virus.

Indeed it took over half an hour before Sir Alex Ferguson’s men really began to threaten but a combination of poor finishing and disciplined defending protected the visitors’ goal.

Dimitar Berbatov was the man handed two chances within a minute, the Bulgarian denied from five yards by a superb block by Gael Givet before heading a cross by Antonio Valencia into the ground and allowing Paul Robinson to tip the bouncing ball over the bar.

Minutes later and Wayne Rooney made it a hat-trick of chances for his partner teeing him up to hit a fierce, low drive which a diving Robinson did well to divert around the post for a corner.

The champions were dominating and five minutes before the break they did have the ball in the back of the net. A sweeping move saw Nani release Rooney down the left and his cross was tapped home by Berbatov only for the Bulgarian to be denied by the offside flag.

The chances continued to come, Rooney crowded out in the box before Berbatov blasted wide after a lovely pass by the England international and Rovers reached the interval, relieved to still be on level terms.

An impatient home crowd urged their side forward after the break and it took less than ten minutes for the deadlock to finally be broken and it was little surprise that it was that man Berbatov who supplied the finish.

Valencia instigated the move, finding John O’Shea whose cross found Patrice Evra. The Frenchman tried a shot from range which instead fell to Berbatov who controlled the ball before turning and firing a superb strike low and into the bottom corner.

On-target – Berbatov opens the scoring

With the lead established Ferguson opted to changes things handing Gabriel Obertan a first taste of life in the Premier League at the expense of the disappointing Nani.

Within seconds of his arrival the youngster caught glimpse of goal after being sent clear down the left flank yet he was, perhaps surprisingly, caught by Ryan Nelson and could only manage a weak shot which was easily claimed by Robinson.

However, with 10 minutes to go Obertan was handed a glorious chance to open his Old Trafford account. Some terrific build up play involving Rooney and Valencia saw the ball fall to the new recruit unmarked at the far post but somehow he conspired to scuff his shot wide with the goal gaping.

It could have been a costly miss but with Rovers showing a distinct lack of ambition, even against an unfamiliar central defensive pairing of Wes Brown and Jonny Evans, it was not to be and with minutes left on the clock Rooney made the game safe.

A great cross from the left by Obertan reached Anderson who found the England international and with his first touch he swept it past Robinson and into the far corner to seal all three points.

There was still time for more chances, Rovers had a goal chalked off controversially for offside before substitute Michael Owen went agonisingly close, but ultimately it was United's day and the perfect response to last weekend’s Anfield defeat.