Manchester United 1 Blackburn Rovers 2

Last updated : 24 September 2005 By Footymad Previewer
Paul Scholes' words came back to haunt him as Blackburn recorded their first victory at Old Trafford for 43 years.

The Manchester United midfielder had said earlier in the week that United would have to beat Blackburn and win at Fulham next Saturday to stand any chance of winning the Premiership title.

Ironically, it was Scholes' 81st minute mistake which set up Blackburn's winner.

Collecting the ball in his own box, the 30-year-old former England star was robbed by Blackburn left-back Michael Gray as he stormed into the United penalty area.

Gray tapped the ball to Morten Gamst Pedersen who was coming up unmarked on his left and the Norwegian lashed his left-foot shot beyond United goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar and into the roof of the net from eight yards.

Pedersen was a thorn in United's side all afternoon and put Rovers ahead after 33 minutes.

Blackburn won a free-kick on the right corner of the United box and Pedersen's brilliant left-footed shot curled through a mass of players and beyond Van der Sar into the far corner of the net.

In an amazingly open game, both sides should have had a hatful of goals before Pedersen struck.

Although United created more chances, Blackburn's efforts were more clear-cut and Van der Sar was forced to make three superb saves.

The first came in the 21st minute. David Bentley's beautifully weighted pass out of defence sent Craig Bellamy racing clear down the right.

The Welshman's pin-point cross into the middle was met by the unmarked Paul Dickov 12 yards out and his diving header was magnificently kept out by Van der Sar with his legs from point-blank range.

Six minutes later, Van der Sar did well to fist away Gray's fierce 20-yard drive from the left side of the box.

Van der Sar again came to United's rescue in the 31st minute - this time denying Bentley, whose shot from the right side of the box seemed destined for the back of the net.

But it was far from all one-way traffic. Blackburn goalkeeper Brad Friedel clawed away a blistering 25-yard shot form Alan Smith.

Smith also went close with two headers, while Cristiano Ronaldo and Ruud van Nistelrooy were also inches away from scoring.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who had left Wayne Rooney on the substitute's bench, brought on the England star for the ineffective Darren Fletcher ten minutes after the interval.

The mood paid dividends in the 67th minute. Rooney's brilliant turn 40 yards out saw him leave Blackburn defender Lucas Neill in his wake and the United striker unleashed a fierce low drive.

Although Friedel stopped the shot, he could not hold onto the ball and Van Nistelrooy followed up to score with a tap in for his fifth league goal of the season.

Van Nistelrooy almost scored again with a speculative 40-yard shot from the right touchline which fizzed just over the Blackburn bar. But Rovers bided their time and,when Scholes boobed nine minutes from the end, star man Pedersen applied the killer touch.

The result leaves United ten points behind Chelsea and, even in late September, Scholes' words could prove prophetic.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Morten Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn) - Scored both Rovers' goals but the Norwegian was a constant menace to the United defence throughout and typified Blackburn's battling display.