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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 November 2006, 19:32 GMT
Blackburn 0-1 Man Utd
Rio Ferdinand leads the Man Utd celebrations at Blackburn
Rio Ferdinand leads the Man Utd celebrations at Blackburn
Manchester United maintained their three-point advantage at the Premiership summit with a hugely impressive victory at Blackburn.

Louis Saha turned in the 64th minute winner after Ryan Giggs had brilliantly retrieved John O'Shea's cross.

Wayne Rooney should have put United out of sight in the first half, missing two glorious chances to score.

But Blackburn were barely seen as an attacking force, and United's victory margin should have been more emphatic.

Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, predictably, were United's main source of danger in a first 45 minutes they dominated completely.

And Rooney was guilty of missing three glorious opportunities to score the goal United's slick approach play deserved.

He escaped the attentions of Blackburn's defenders after 20 minutes, but hit the outside of a post from a tight angle.

Rooney was then left holding his head in disbelief 12 minutes later when he somehow failed to apply the final touch to a perfect Ronaldo cross with the goal at his mercy.

606 DEBATE: Give your thoughts on the match

He was also off target four minutes before the interval after Blackburn keeper Brad Friedel could only push out Saha's shot from 20 yards.

Frustration got the better of Rooney on the stroke of half-time when he was booked for dissent by referee Mike Riley after he turned down penalty appeals when Saha tumbled under challenge from Brett Emerton.

United were forced into a change at half-time, with the injured Gary Neville being replaced by O'Shea.

Blackburn almost took the lead against the run of play after 49 minutes when Zurab Khizanishvili glanced Morten Gamst Pedersen's corner just wide.

Rooney was having no joy in front of goal, and he was denied by a point-blank reflex save from Friedel after turning inside the Blackburn penalty box.

Blackburn were living a charmed life, and it was no more than United deserved when Saha gave them the lead after 63 minutes.

O'Shea's cross was turned in by Giggs at the far post and Saha was perfectly placed to finish the job.

United were flowing, but Blackburn were not out of it yet and Edwin van der Sar had to be alert to stop Benni McCarthy getting on the end of David Bentley's cross.

And McCarthy almost grabbed an unlikely equaliser three minutes from time when Tugay's misplaced free-kick arrived at his feet, but he shot straight at Van der Sar.

  • Blackburn manager Mark Hughes:
    "No complaints about the result, but I thought we put in a good effort and created a problem for them.

    "I think United will go very close this year. They have a lot of pace and power in their team and I think they are more dynamic this season.

    "They have also got really good movement in forward areas and I think they will go close, but I was pleased with our performance and if we continue to play like that we will win more than we lose this season."

  • Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson:
    "Our results have proved we have got a chance this year and it is good we have stayed with Chelsea early on.

    "They have done fantastic to win the league so early in the last couple of seasons, but we have had a good start.

    "I think January will be pivotal and we need to keep the injury situation low-key.

    "I was really pleased with the guts we showed here and we worked really hard for the result."

    Blackburn: Friedel, Emerton, Ooijer, Khizanishvili, Neill, Bentley (Peter 79), Mokoena, Kerimoglu, Pedersen, Nonda (Jeffers 84), McCarthy.
    Subs Not Used: Brown, Henchoz, Gray.

    Booked: Mokoena, McCarthy, Khizanishvili, Peter.

    Man Utd: Van der Sar, Neville (O'Shea 46), Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra (Silvestre 89), Ronaldo (Fletcher 90), Carrick, Scholes, Giggs, Rooney, Saha.
    Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Brown.

    Booked: Vidic, Rooney, Evra.

    Goal: Saha 64.

    Att: 26,162.

    Ref: M Riley (W Yorkshire).

    606 DEBATE: Give your thoughts on this match

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