Regal Rooney helps United reign

Ince faces date with FA after criticising 'diabolical' referee but Ferguson raises champagne after seeing off 'big-time Charlie'
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The Independent Online

Blackburn's manager, Paul Ince, faces censure from the Football Association after bitterly criticising the referee, Steve Bennett, as Manchester United won 2-0 at Ewood Park last night. Ince claimed that his reserve goalkeeper, Jason Brown, was fouled by Nemanja Vidic as Wes Brown headed the opening goal after half an hour.

Ince confronted Bennett as the teams left the pitch at half-time. He said later: "The referee got it completely wrong. They keep telling me refs are a lot fitter and get into position quicker, but if he can't see Vidic put an elbow in my keeper's throat, he shouldn't be refereeing.

"That's a diabolical decision. It happens a lot when you play the big clubs. Clubs down there don't seem to get these decisions and clubs up there do."

In the first few weeks of the Football Association's "Respect" campaign, the least Ince can expect is a request to explain his comments.

Sir Alex Ferguson described United's performance as their best of the season as they moved to within three points of the leaders ahead of this afternoon's matches. "It's always been a difficult ground for us," he said, "but everyone was on song. The first 10 minutes was a normal Blackburn-United game, hammer and tongs, but once we got the ball down, we controlled the game."

It was United's fourth successive victory, and featured a third goal in as many games from Wayne Rooney, who unexpectedly played from the start and proved his fitness for England's World Cup qualifying tie against Kazakhstan next Saturday. "He was full of running and got his reward," Ferguson said. "We're capable of a winning streak now but it's not an easy League. There are lots of grounds you can go to and lose points."

That was what happened to Arsenal, who needed a last-minute equaliser from Cesc Fabregas at the Stadium of Light. Sunderland had taken an 86th-minute lead thanks to the local lad Grant Leadbitter's stunning strike but Arsène Wenger's men equalised in injury time when Fabregas soared to nod in Robin van Persie's corner.

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