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Wednesday, May 12, 1999 Published at 22:47 GMT 23:47 UK

Rovers down as United march on

Ryan Giggs tests Stephane Henchoz

Blackburn 0-0 Man United

A goalless draw at Ewood Park condemned Blackburn to First Division football and edged Manchester United nearer to the Premiership title.

The BBC's Alan Green: "It is so disappointing for Blackburn"
This much vaunted collision of sides managed by former colleagues Brian Kidd and Alex Ferguson was short on genuine class but long on emotion and courage.

United dominated territory and possession for most of the 90 minutes, but it was Ashley Ward, one of Kidd's many signings, who missed a golden chance with just five minutes remaining.

Brian Kidd: "It is a bad defeat"
The result means that either Southampton or Charlton will escape relegation, while Manchester United need to win their final game of the season against Spurs to be assured of the Premiership title.

But a defeat or draw for United will enable Arsenal to retain their championsip if they beat Aston Villa at Highbury.

Despite a bright start from the home side, it was David Beckham who provided the first real goal attempt - his shot deflected marginally past John Filan's far post.


[ image: Passions running high: Former colleagues  Alex Ferguson and Brian Kidd]
Passions running high: Former colleagues Alex Ferguson and Brian Kidd
Within a minute, Phillip Neville's right footed shot arrived in Filan's grateful arms after a goalmouth scramble.

Already, United were beginning to dominate the game, with the movement of Ryan Giggs and David Beckham troubling the home side.

Andy Cole underlined his recent run of poor form when he missed an open goal after Giggs's header hit the post with Filan stranded.

Dwight Yorke brought the first real save of the match - his powerful shot tipped over by Filan after careless play by the Rovers defence.

Blackburn resumed their pressure soon after, but a failure to create a real chance hindered them, and a clearance from Peter Schmeichel nearly undid them, with Cole latching on to the through ball before shooting straight at Filan.


A disappointing first half for United was summed up with the news that Dutch international Jaap Stam would not be able to compete in the second period. He was replaced by David May.

Alex Ferguson: "I wanted to win"
Schmeichel's first serious work came after youngster David Dunn struck powerfully from outside the penalty area and the Danish goalkeeper was at full strength to tip the ball over.

A move involving Yorke and Beckham saw Giggs played through, but the United winger failed to get his shot past Filan and Darren Peacock cleared.

More United pressure resulted in Ronny Johnsen meeting Beckham's corner with a powerful header which Lee Carsley cleared off the goal-line.

With 20 minutes remaining, Ferguson replaced Cole with Teddy Sheringham.


[ image: Stephane Henchoz and Phillip Neville contest possession]
Stephane Henchoz and Phillip Neville contest possession
Five minutes later, Ferguson underlined his desire for a United win by bringing on midfielder Scholes for Phillip Neville.

Kidd, sensing the need for something different, replaced Keith Gillespie with Damien Johnson.

Johnson nearly made an immediate impression, just failing to get hold of Matt Jansen's teasing cross.

And Ward, anonymous for most of the game, should have scored with just eight minutes remaining, shooting wide after Johnson's run had caused confusion in the United penalty area.

The pace of the game continued until the final whistle, but Kidd's men, although brave and spirited, failed to create any other chances of note.

Jack Walker, the chief architect of Rovers' rise to the top of the Premiership in terms of his financial contribution, could not hide his tears as the game's conclusion confirmed the demise of his beloved side.

Blackburn: Filan, Croft, Henchoz, Peacock, Davidson, Gillespie, Dunn, Carsley, Wilcox, Ward, Jansen. Subs: Davies, Duff, Broomes, Johnson, Flowers.
Man Utd: Schmeichel, G. Neville, Johnsen, Stam, Irwin, Beckham, Butt, P. Neville, Giggs, Yorke, Cole. Subs: May, Sheringham, Scholes, Solskjaer, Van Der Gouw.
Referee: M Reed (Birmingham)

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