Date:Sunday November 11 2007
United earned a routine 2-0 win over Blackburn who were left fuming over Dunn's somewhat harsh dismissal.
With Wayne Rooney out, there were question marks over our ability to play the same way we did with the England striker. I would not say these were answered emphatically but we showed that we are more than capable of scoring goals without Roo.
Louis Saha, contradicting my prophecy, has been reintroduced into the starting line-up and Giggs' place in the first eleven meant that Tevez was more often than not was out on the left wing in a 4-2-3-1 formation which did not strike me as overly ambitious at home.
Blackburn, unbeaten away from the Premier League until this game, started with intent but for a while it was clear only because of numerous fouls they committed to stop us. They were, however, looking quite accomplished with the ball and there were a couple of nervy moments, most notably when Martin Atkinson somehow failed to spot a blatant foul on Ronaldo that allowed Samba to crash a shot against the crossbar.
It was Blackburn's only real goalscoring opportunity as Anderson and Hargreaves ruled the midfield and denied them space. Up front, we did not create much but Tevez's shot forced a save from Friedel while Ronaldo's effort after a corner was cleared off the line by David Bentley.
Yet even he could not help when the Portuguese winger, always eager for the ball, rose to meet a perfect Giggs corner and headed it under the bar with Bentley hopelessly trying to head it out.
It rocked Rovers who were by and large successful at keeping us at bay before this and they were two down within two minutes when a sweeping counter-attack was finished expertly by Ronaldo who was set up by a beautiful Tevez pass. This effectively ended the game as a contest: Blackburn never looked likely of pulling two back even though lack of concentration caused some shaky moments in the United box but Van der Sar was mostly a spectator in the first half.
The second half started with Rovers in bullish mood, going for every ball and usually getting there first. Yet they could not muster even half-chances before their hopes were ended by Atkinson who gave a yellow card when Dunn tripped Saha who would have been free on the break. It was an undebatable yellow but as it was his second and the first was rather harsh, Mark Hughes will rightly feel disappointed and angry.
But it ended the game. United made the most of their numerical advantage and confidently bossed Blackburn though creating nothing more than a few half-chances due to their carelessness. It quickly became an energy-saving effort for the hosts, Cristiano Ronaldo excluded as the winger was desperate to score a hat-trick - and screwed up a number of promising attacks in the process, by the way.
Wayne Rooney, now out with a freak ankle injury, said he had been bored during the Dynamo Kyiv game due to the lack of ambition showed by the visitors. What would he have said after today's second half is anyone's guess but I somehow believe he wouldn't have been overly excited. United are back where they belong though: on the top of the table. Now we only need a little help from Reading (even a one-goal defeat will do) to stay there.
Date:Sunday November 11 2007
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