Premier League - Blackburn claim famous win over United

Sat, 31 Dec 14:41:00 2011

Underfire manager Steve Kean celebrated a famous victory after Blackburn stunned Manchester United with a 3-2 Premier League victory at Old Trafford.

Man Utd 2 Blackburn 3

Yakubu Aiyegbeni scored his 12th goal of the season from the penalty spot after Christopher Samba was tugged down by Dimitar Berbatov in the 16th minute, and added a second to further stun the home crowd six minutes after half-time.

Within just 23 seconds of Yakubu's second, Berbatov finished clinically with his head from close range to reduce the deficit, and the Bulgarian doubled his tally 10 minutes later to draw United level.

But Blackburn were not to be denied as United's defence was breached once more. David De Gea floundered crucially as Grant Hanley beat the hapless Spaniard to a Morten Gamst Pedersen corner and headed into an empty net to clinch a stunning and improbable victory for Kean's men.

Wayne Rooney was not even named on the bench by birthday boy Sir Alex Ferguson as Javier Hernandez and Berbatov were partnered together in attack, while Rafael and Phil Jones returned in defence. Blackburn were missing injured duo David Dunn and Junior Hoilett from the side that drew at Liverpool on Boxing Day.

The match was preceded by a choir rolling out a rather surreal rendition of Happy Birthday in tribute to Ferguson - 70 today - and it was a very quiet start to the first half with a subdued atmosphere as United dominated the possession for no reward.

The hosts were stunned in the 15th minute as Berbatov hauled down Samba inside the United box with a poor piece of defending to hand Rovers a shock penalty. The ever composed Yakubu sent De Gea the wrong way with a cool finish, and Blackburn assumed the lead.

Jones thought he had restored parity against his former club in the 27th minute as he stole in to fire a shot from close range which looked to be headed for the bottom corner of the net, only for defender Hanley to make a timely intervention with a sharp block.

Two minutes later, Hernandez went agonisingly close to levelling the scores with a sharp turn to evade the tight marking of Samba and fire a fierce drive towards the far post, but the ball fizzed narrowly wide with goalkeeper Mark Bunn scrambling desperately across his line.

Bunn produced a fine save down low to his left to deny Nani on the stroke of half-time as the winger planted a snap shot on target from an acute angle and, remarkably, the boos which rang out as the half-time whistle was sounded were from the United fans.

But just six minutes after the break, Rovers further stunned their hosts with a second goal from nothing: Steven Nzonzi's innocuous throw-in was picked up by Yakubu, who proceeded to power through two challenges and drill an emphatic finish beyond De Gea.

Rovers have dropped 14 points from winning positions this season - more than any other team in the Premier League - and despite United's previously sluggish and lethargic build-up play, there was an air of inevitability about the comeback which was to follow.

Just 23 seconds after Yakubu's second, United scored their 1,500th Premier League goal: Rafael's cross from the right was not properly cleared, and Berbatov was on hand to stoop and head the ball beyond Bunn from close range to reduce his side's arrears.

Blackburn were again punished in the 62nd minute as the jet-heeled Antonio Valencia zipped past Adam Henley down the right and cut the ball back to Berbatov, who kept his composure and side-footed the ball beyond Bunn to net his sixth goal in five games.

The visitors continued to employ a fearless brand of counter-attacking football, and United very nearly conceded a third in the 74th minute as Hanley beat De Gea to meet Pedersen's corner from the right but his glancing header drifted fractionally wide.

It was a warning United did not heed. Blackburn restored their lead in dramatic fashion as defender Hanley capitalised on some appalling goalkeeping from De Gea to head Pedersen's corner into an empty net and silence the home fans.

The victory was only Blackburn's third victory of an inauspicious campaign as Kean secured a famous win to spoil Ferguson's birthday celebrations and ease the relentless pressure on his tenure, while for United the chance to temporarily usurp Manchester City at the top of the table was squandered.

Dan Quarrell - follow on Twitter @danquarrell / Eurosport

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