Blackburn spoil the party with stunning win against United

Manchester United 2 Blackburn 3

Blackburn gatecrashed Sir Alex Ferguson's 70th birthday celebrations to claim a stunning win at the end of a quite amazing contest with Manchester United.

Goals from Ayegbeni Yakubu either side of the interval put the Barclays Premier League's bottom club into a surprise two-goal lead before United hit back through Dimitar Berbatov.

There seemed to be only one conclusion after the Bulgarian had scored twice to take his tally to five over the Christmas period.

But despite piling on the pressure, it was United who were undone as David de Gea failed to collect Morten Gamst Pedersen's corner, allowing Grant Hanley to head home the winner 10 minutes from time.

It represented Steve Kean's best win as Blackburn manager, taking them off the foot of the table, and left Ferguson to question the wisdom of not even putting a rested Wayne Rooney on the bench on the day he confirmed an intention to remain in his job for a further three years.

The party atmosphere at kick-off proved to be a false guide to what followed.

In a pre-recorded interview with MUTV, Ferguson confirmed his future plans, which would make him by some distance the Premier League's oldest manager.

The Scot then received a rendition of 'Happy Birthday to you' from the home fans in recognition of his 70th birthday, setting the scene for the slaughter expected to follow.

Except United, injury-hit to the extent of having to name Rafael and Park Ji-sung as central midfield partners, were not up to the task.

The fluency that had carried them to eight wins from nine league games since their only defeat, that 6-1 massacre by Manchester City in October, was so obviously missing.

Nani was an obvious attacking outlet but had one of his frustrating days and neither Berbatov, Hernandez nor Danny Welbeck could plot a path through the massed ranks of Blackburn's defence.

Twenty-four hours earlier, Ferguson had confirmed an intention to hand Berbatov an extra year's contract.

He must have felt like snatching it away, when the Bulgarian followed up his Boxing Day hat-trick against Wigan by hauling Christopher Samba over in the box.

At a club as unstable as Blackburn, one of the few certainties is that from the spot, Yakubu does not miss and the Nigerian promptly sent De Gea the wrong way.

United's response was strange in that, without playing well, they started to create opportunities.

Nani was off target with a couple of efforts then the Portugal winger was denied by Rovers' stand-in keeper Mark Bunn, as was Hernandez.

At one point, Hernandez also got in the way of a goalbound effort from Phil Jones, who had recovered from illness to face his former club for the first time since his £17million move to Old Trafford.

Pilloried by his own fans immediately before Christmas, Rovers boss Kean had now seen his side take first-half leads at Liverpool and United in a staggering six-day spell.

With no Rooney to assist his team, Ferguson turned to Anderson at the break, a move that triggered a number of positional changes, the most significant of which saw Valencia shifted into an advanced position.

But, before United had a chance to see whether the tactical switches would work, they fell further behind.

Yakubu had too much strength for makeshift central defender Michael Carrick as he turned on the edge of the area, then nipped past Jones before drilling his shot through De Gea's legs.

Disastrously for Blackburn, they conceded themselves within 20 seconds of the restart as United advanced, the ball eventually finding its way to Rafael whose bouncing cross-shot was nodded home by Berbatov.

So often have Ferguson's teams recovered from such unpromising situations down the years, Kean must have felt sick.

His side started to get overwhelmed by the tide of red attacks, with Valencia to the fore.

It was the South American's burst of pace and subsequent cut-back that provided Berbatov with the opportunity to side-foot United level.

Minutes later, Bunn almost unbelievably prevented Grant Hanley from turning Berbatov's cross into his own net. He did not know much about it though, as the ball flew over off his outstretched foot.

The weight of attacks on the Blackburn goal was immense. Yet United's commitment was so great they forgot to defend, and once again the questions were raised over De Gea, who came to collect Morten Gamst Pedersen's corner.

Instead, Hanley won the first header, then found the bottom corner with his second.

United resolve was sapped and their hopes of snatching the point that would take them top of the table disappeared when Bunn and home debutant Will Keane got in the way of Jones' injury-time effort.

PA

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kellie Bright as Linda Carter and Danny Dyer as Mick Carter

EastEnders Christmas specials are known for their shouty, over-the-top soap drama but tonight the show has done itself proud thanks to Danny Dyer.

Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy
tvCall the Midwife Christmas Special
Sport
Laura Trott and Jason Kenny are preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there