United Clinch 19th League Title With A Penalty From Rooney




Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney

Manchester United sealed their 19th league title in what will no doubt be remembered as a season where Sir Alex delivered on his promise to ‘knock Liverpool off their perch’. It might not have been the most entertaining match of the season, but it certainly had its moments as Blackburn seemed the team more determined for the win with United needing only a point to clinch their title. Ryan Giggs was handed a start as he made his 613th appearance, tying the maximum appearances for one club by one player in the top division of English football. The game also saw Nani, Evans and Kuszczak start with the first two trying to battle their way into the Champions league squad and the latter trying to prove he still belongs at Old Trafford. At the end of the day though, the match ended as a 1-1 draw with Emerton scoring for the Rovers before a penalty from Rooney earned a point for the new Champions.

The game began in the presence of a large gathering of away fans, who no doubt wanted to be present at the match that would make them champions for a record 19th time. And they almost had an early reason to celebrate as Nani struck the crossbar with his header from a Rooney cross. Nani seemed eager to make his way back on to the regular starting eleven and shot wide from range in the 7th minute. Blackburn, who are right in the middle of the relegation battle, weren’t about to sit back and watch united play as they set up attacks of their own and Chris Samba sent a loose ball over the bar in the 10th minute. Again, from a Paul Robinson free kick, Samba found himself in the box and he put the ball in the back of the net, but the referee deemed he had fouled Vidic in the build-up. This was followed up by the first of Kuszczak’s errors as he came out to collect the ball, realized he couldn’t handle it and fumbled the ball till Vidic managed to get in a clearance before Blackburn could take advantage. Blackburn continued to play vibrant football and put together a flowing move to put the ball at Emerton’s feet who in turn tried to float the ball into the far corner. Another error of judgement by Kuszczak saw him keep the ball in play with a save, even though the ball was missing the target. Olsson did well to first keep the ball in play and then find Emerton with a cross. The Australian slotted the ball home to give the home side a 1-0 lead. United were content in the knowledge that they only needed a point and their next real danger only came in the 35th minute as Hernandez found himself at the end of Giggs’ ball and got in a shot on the turn to draw a decent save from Paul Robinson. In the 38th minute, Roberts displayed his strength to hold up the ball against Vidic near the halfway line and this started a move which ended with Olsson volleying wide of the united goal. Kuszczak found himself at the end of a backpass from Rio Ferdinand and made it uncomfortable for himself by taking one touch too many and then hesitating before finally managing to get a goal kick by striking it against the onrushing Hoilett in what was a reminder to the similar error he made against Tevez in the famous 4-3 Manchester derby last year. Nani, who had been fairly quiet since his initial exploits shot well over in the 45th minute and left his manager visibly displeased.

The United team which walked out into the second half looked like it had received one of Fergie’s famous hairdryer treatments and displayed more intent to attack the Blackburn goal. Hernandez failed to find Rooney or Giggs who on either side of him after a quick break from United had put them in a promising situation. Kuszczak, however, carried over his nervousness into the second half as he failed to completely reach a ball that he came out for in the 57th minute and Rio & co. did well to keep the scoreline at 1-0. Soon after, Nani found his shot deflected wide for a corner. United continued to pile on the pressure as Rafael nudged the ball to Valencia who was in acres of space. Phil jones did well to get in a block from Giggs from the resulting cross. Blackburn nearly broke the hearts of the away fans as Olsson hit the post from a cross which had the United keeper praying it wouldn’t land in the back of the net. There was Drama in the 70th minute as a quick burst of pace from Hernandez saw him one on one with Robinson and he managed to nudge the ball away just before Robinson caught him. Referee Phil Dowd wasn’t entirely sure and ran across to consult his assistant, who confirmed it was indeed a penalty. The assistant being hounded by United players before the decision and Blackburn players after the decision saw Salgado receive a yellow card for dissent. Rooney, cool as you like, sent Robinson the wrong way to spark early celebrations as number 19 was on its way. United only put together one more attacking move after that as Rooney sent a glorious ball across the face of goal which both Nani and Hernandez failed to capitalise on.The game then turned into extensive periods of keep-ball with both sides satisfied with a point. United ended the game with nearly 6 minutes of unchallenged possession, deep in their own half and even Sir Alex called for the referee to end the match already as it was a ‘farce’. The referee soon obliged, at the end of the stipulated time and United burst on to the pitch as the celebrations began in the Red half of Manchester.

It might very well have been Kuszczak’s last game for United, but it will be one he will remember well for it brings him yet another Premier League winner’s medal. And with Manchester City winning the FA cup later on, it certainly seems to be the town to be in. Are you listening, Rafael Van der Vaart?

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