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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 August, 2004, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
Blackburn 1-1 Man Utd
Manchester United strikers Alan Smith and Louis Saha celebrate their equaliser
Alan Smith scored a contentious but deserved last-gasp equaliser to earn Manchester United a point at Ewood Park.

United launched one last attack on the Blackburn goal with Louis Saha using his hand to turn the ball into the path of Smith, who rifled home.

Despite having Lorenzo Amoruso sent off for a foul on Saha, Blackburn seemed set for victory thanks to Paul Dickov's brilliant left-foot volley.

But Brad Friedel, who made several stunning saves, was beaten by Smith.

Smith's goal left the Rovers fans shocked after they had witnessed their side withstand a tidal wave of United goal attempts.

And Rovers boss Graeme Souness was less than pleased that referee Alan Wiley failed to spot Saha's hand-ball that led to the equaliser.

United made a jittery start and were lucky that Dickov did not capitalise on a defensive mix-up between John O'Shea and Tim Howard early on.

KEY MOMENTS
17 mins: Paul Dickov scores with a brilliant left-foot volley
70 mins: Lorenso Amoruso sent off for professional foul on Louis Saha
93 mins: Alan Smith equalises for Man Utd

O'Shea expected his goalkeeper to make a clearance which Howard eventually did by blasting the ball against the legs of the onrushing Dickov.

The visitors, however, were soon into their stride with Cristiano Ronaldo a lively presence on the right.

The Portugal winger won a string of free-kicks but the end product was not there as United struggled to convert their dominance into decent goalscoring opportunities.

Blackburn repelled the early pressure and when David Thompson limped off injured to be replaced by Brett Emerton, Rovers took full advantage.

Dickov reacted quickest to Pedersen's throw-in and showed great strength to fend off Mikael Silvestre, control the ball on his chest and turn to volley home the opener from a tight angle.

It was brilliant strike by the former Leicester forward and gave Blackburn the platform from which to control possession for the remainder of the half.

Blackburn striker Paul Dickov
Dickov scored a brilliant opener

Rovers goalkeeper Friedel saved well with his foot to deny Smith, while the American international expertly tipped Kleberson's venomous strike away from a corner on the stroke of half time.

After the break, Kleberson was replaced by Saha, who was making his first league appearance of the season.

But neither Saha nor Smith could find a way past a resilient Rovers rearguard, well-marshalled by Craig Short, Amoruso and Dominic Matteo.

The latter made an excellent double block to keep out shots from Saha and Paul Scholes.

Friedel was again forced to make a fine save to keep out Smith's bullet header from Ryan Giggs' cross.

United poured forward in search of the equaliser and the pressure told when Amoruso deliberately blocked Saha and was sent off for a professional foul.

Yet Blackburn hit back and Pedersen should have wrapped up the result after being set up by Emerton on a swift counter-attack.

But the unmarked Norwegian winger blasted over to the relief of United fans.

It appeared that United would not find a way past the outstanding Friedel who made a series of superb saves to deny Smith, Saha and Scholes.

But the Rovers keeper was finally beaten with only seconds to go when Smith struck his equaliser after being handed the ball by Saha.


Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Short, Amoruso, Matteo, Thompson (Emerton 17), Ferguson, Tugay, Pedersen, Stead (Yorke 64), Dickov (Johansson 71).
Subs Not Used: De Pedro, Enckelman.

Sent Off: Amoruso (71).

Booked: Stead, Amoruso, Tugay.

Goals: Dickov 17.

Man Utd: Howard, Gary Neville, O'Shea, Silvestre, Spector (Miller 75), Ronaldo, Djemba-Djemba (Bellion 80), Kleberson (Saha 45), Giggs, Scholes, Smith.
Subs Not Used: Phil Neville, Carroll.

Booked: Kleberson.

Goals: Smith 90.

Att: 26,155

Ref: A Wiley (Staffordshire).




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Interview: Alan Smith





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