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United 2 Blackburn 0

This fixture was always a potential stumbling block, especially with the absence of Rooney. Blackburn had played the rest of the “big 4” without losing so far this season, including a draw at Stamford Bridge, and breaking them down would not be easy. However, United’s fluent passing and movement from the first whistle was tremendous and reassured everyone in the crowd that 3 points were there to be had.

United’s team is not at its strongest right now with Scholes, Rooney and Neville missing. However, from back to front every man out there in the shirt is pulling their weight and there is depth throughout the squad. Today VDS was solid, the back four coped brilliantly with some decent Blackburn players, Hargreaves and Anderson again looked like they had played together in midfield for years, and of course Giggs, Tevez and Ronaldo were their usual selves. Saha was the only weak link in the side but he is a great player and will be great again with match practice. The fact that players such as Carrick and Nani were on the bench despite all the injuries says something about the quality United have right now.

Blackburn could have taken the lead when Samba smashed a shot against the bar. The referee failed to give a blatant foul on Ronaldo, and the resulting shot very nearly left United a goal down. Fortunately it took only minutes after that for the home side to take the lead instead. Ronaldo won a corner, let Giggs take it, and headed in from the resulting cross. He rose high and managed to power it past the defender on the line- he is truly class. Whilst the Stretford End was still singing Ronaldo’s name he scored again. Saha played in Tevez who covered the length of the pitch and crossed the ball to the Portuguese winger to direct into the net. Game over.

United took control and passed the ball about with ease. Blackburn started to get increasingly physical and United players were dropping to the floor with the constant fouling. It was lucky for Blackburn that United’s freekicks on the edge of the area were so poor otherwise the result would have been embarrassing for them. The away side went down to 10 men when Dunn tripped Saha, but in fairness there was no malice in it and he was unlucky to get sent down the tunnel. The game was already over and United did not seem too fussed to rack up a high score. They retained the ball, entertained the crowd and saw out the game professionally.

In the stands the good old stewards took centre stage again trying to get a lively Stretford End to sit down. They never stood a chance. Just as they went through the rows one by one and thought they had done their job, a roar of ‘Stand up for the champions’ broke out and they would have to start all over again. It was all good natured and resulted in one block naming one of the stewards Monty Panesar and singing cricket songs to him. He did not know how to react apart from to smile and wave!

This was a tricky fixture out the way and next is Bolton, a team on the mend who have not lost in a while now and who will be very glad Rooney is not fit to play them. Three points there and the Reds will be in a very strong position. Home games against Derby and Fulham follow that whilst the European ties in between are essentially meaningless. Well played today Reds, a joy to watch, attacking flair, a clean sheet and gaining on Chelsea’s slip.

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