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Premier League: Manchester United 2 Blackburn 3

Manchester United were stunned by Blackburn as two Yakubu goals and a late winner from Grant Hanley gave Steve Kean’s men a 3-2 victory.

Dimitar Berbatov pulled United level with two goals after Yakubu had sent Rovers into a shock two-goal lead at Old Trafford, but the home side failed to turn the screw and Hanley took advantage of some questionable goalkeeping from David De Gea to secure three points.

United were left stunned when Berbatov hauled down Chris Samba and referee Mike Dean duly pointed to the spot.

Yakubu sent the Spanish goalkeeper the wrong way to end any ideas Sir Alex Ferguson might have had a straightforward three points on his 70th birthday.

The home team continued to dominate possession but lacked the tempo required to really unsettle Blackburn’s two lines of defence.

Phil Jones had a close range effort blocked and Javier Hernandez shot narrowly wide after turning on to his left foot, but otherwise chances remained few and far between.

Nani finally forced Mark Bunn to work when he stabbed at a shot the young goalkeeper did well to parry shortly before the break.

Anderson replaced Hernandez at half-time in order to provide a more stable presence in the centre of the park but, remarkably, the visitors struck again out of very little.

Michael Carrick failed to intercept a short throw-in to Yakubu and the Nigerian skipped past Jones with ease before firing through the legs of De Gea.

The insurance provided by the second goal did not last long. Kean did not even have time to bring on young defender Josh Morris to reinforce the Blackburn barricade before United had pulled a goal back.

After Antonio Valencia’s cross from the right was blocked, Rafael fired the ball back across the six-yard box and Berbatov stooped to head past Bunn from close range.

United’s shape was much better as a result of the introduction of Anderson, and they were putting much more pressure on Blackburn as they looked to play out from the back as a result.

After Rafael intercepted a poor clearance Valencia skipped past Adam Henley and cut the ball back for Berbatov; once again the Bulgarian made no mistake from close range and United were level.

Formica’s shot from 20 yards might then have tested De Gea if it had not deflected wide off of Carrick, and the resulting corner was won too easily by Hanley, although the defender headed wide.

That was apparently not warning enough for United, as Hanley went one better with Rovers’ next corner.

After the 20-year-old had beaten the flailing De Gea to head the ball back into the air, not a single red shirt reacted, allowing the young Scot to finish the job with another header to seal a memorable three points for his side.

Sat 31 December, 2011
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