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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 May, 2004, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Blackburn 1-0 Man Utd
Andy Cole caused his old side problems

Blackburn striker Jonathan Stead scored a late winner against a below-par Manchester United side.

Andy Cole, who had a goal ruled out for offside against his old team, and Stead both missed chances for Rovers.

The game looked headed for a goalless draw before substitute Paul Gallacher set up Stead to score from close range.

United were missing several key men and struggled to create clear-cut chances as they slipped four points behind Chelsea in the battle for second spot.

With Blackburn virtually clear of danger and United's title challenge long gone, the game lacked a cutting edge with defences dominating.

With Ruud van Nistelrooy and Louis Saha both absent, Manchester United had their reserve strikeforce on show and rarely troubled a makeshift Rovers backline.

Solskjaer almost caught Nils-Eric Johansson napping early on by nipping in front of the Swedish defender to latch on to Ryan Giggs' pass but his early shot was just off target.

19 mins: Cole finds the net but it is ruled out for offside
69 mins: Howard does well to keep out a Tugay volley
85 mins: Stead pounces late to steal the points

Blackburn soon grabbed a hold of the game with the impressive Stead and Cole looking lively.

Cole found the net in the 19th minute with a looping a shot over Tim Howard, but it was ruled out for offside.

Stead and Cole combined before the former fired in a low effort that was a whisker the wrong side of the post.

At the other end Rovers keeper Brad Friedel was finally forced into action to parry away Solskjaer's driven cross in a rare attack from United.

Kleberson attempted a spectacular volley from a half-cleared corner which was well off target.

Howard was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers with Friedel virtually a spectator.

The American easily held onto a Lucas Neill header from a Jonathon Douglas cross.

And Neill was again involved as his cross was met powerfully on the volley by Tugay which Howard did brilliantly to keep out.

With six minutes left Blackburn threw on Gallacher for Cole and the change provided instant dividends.

Gallacher twisted and turned before teeing up Stead to score from close range and steal all three points.

It was his sixth goal in the 11 appearances since arriving from Huddersfield.

It was anything but spectacular from Blackburn but they can now start looking to next season.

Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Babbel, Johansson, Gray, Andresen, Flitcroft, Tugay (Emerton 90), Douglas, Stead, Cole (Gallagher 84).
Subs not used: Reid, Yorke, Enckelman.

Booked: Flitcroft, Gallagher.

Man Utd: Howard, Gary Neville, Silvestre, Brown, O'Shea, Phil Neville, Butt (Bellion 70), Djemba-Djemba (Fletcher 81), Giggs, Kleberson (Forlan 77), Solskjaer.
Subs not used: Spector, Carroll.

Booked: Solskjaer.

Attendance: 29,616.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

BBC Five Live's Stuart Hall
"United were but a shadow's shadow"

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