Manchester United notched a 2-0 win at home over Blackburn Rovers today, securing a spot at the top of the EPL table.
With Wayne Rooney out with a foot injury, Luis Saha got his first EPL start since March. That didn't slow United's attack, as Saha and Carlos Tevez had a number of missed chances in the early going.
Blackburn had their own opportunities early, with Roq Santa Cruz feeding Benedict McCarthy at the top of the box in the 12th minute. McCarthy's weak shot rolled wide right. In the 19th minute, Ronaldo is taken down without a call and it resulted in a blast from Samba banging off the crossbar.
United earned two corners in the 33rd minute, the second of which found Christiano Ronaldo's head—and then the back of the net.
A minute later, Tevez led a 3-on-2 United break before feeding Ronaldo for a second score. The 2-0 lead would be all Alex Ferguson's team needed.The half ended with the shots favouring United 14-7. Blackburn did a good job of holding United except for that single two-minute span—further proof that you have to play all 90 minutes against the Red Devils.
United started the second half with an early chance as Owen Hargreaves found Giggs alone out right and his looping shot had Friedel beat but was just inches over the crossbar. The game settled down after that, with a majority of the play coming in the middle third of the pitch. Blackburn's David Dunn earned his second yellow card of the game for a tackle on Saha in the 52nd minute, leaving his team a man down for the final 38 ticks.
Ronaldo came close to making it 3-0 in the 62nd minute, but his blast from the top of the box went just over the bar. He came within inches of a hat-trick again in the 82nd minute, taking a pass deep in the box and firing a shot into the side of the net.
Blackburn’s best chance of the game came in the 88th minute, as Samba got his head on a corner kick and forced Edwin Van der Sar to make a big save. Patrice Evra was there to clear the rebound to safety.
After Ronaldo earned a yellow card for pushing a Blackburn defender in the 90th minute, United closed out extra time with some good ball possession to secure the 2-0 win.
All told, United did what they needed to do. The red card to Dunn was the final nail for Blackburn, who really didn’t give United much trouble except for the one late chance.
Manchester finished the game outshooting Blackburn by a count of 26-12. The Red Devils also ended up with 58 percent of the ball possession.
The loss for Rovers was their first away from home in the EPL since March. United now lead Arsenal by three points at the top of the table, with Chelsea lurking five points back and Liverpool another tick behind them.
The EPL shuts down until November 24th, with international games taking the stage next weekend as England tries to salvage its Euro 2008 chances.