Blackburn Rovers 1 v 1 Manchester United

Ewood Park, Blackburn
28th August 2004

Alan Smith grabbed a goal that could prove crucial to the Championship, with just three games played. With United having lost their first game, and their rivals having won all theirs, both Chelsea and Arsenal could have been 9 points ahead of United, although with the Reds having a game in hand.

In the fourth minute of stoppage time Smith drove the ball left-footed past Brad Friedel, who had managed to save all the United had thrown at him up to that point. The goal was controversial because it seems that Louis Saha handled the ball down to Smith to set it up. Who cares, eh?

In truth United were unucky to come away with just a point. The first half saw a lucky goal frm Dickov - firing in from a tight angle from a thrown-in, and from that point on United took the game to their North-West counterparts.

Ronaldo's tricksy runs down the left and right had the defence in a fluster, though Smith was looking a lonely figure upfront, with Kleberson and Djemba-Djemba failing to control the play in the middle of the park.

It was the mercurial Brazilian who made way for Saha at half-time, and this saw a United side with more impetus and more attacking threat.

Friedel had other ideas about what was going to happen however, with the ancient American parrying and pushing round the post attempts from Smith (2), Saha (2) and Ronaldo and Scholes.

Saha ran through on 70 minutes only to be lynched by Amoruso, who was the last man and deserved to be sent off.

With the man advantage, United pushed up even more, with another striker in the form of Bellion coming on, but it all seemed to be coming to nothing. Until the last minute of inury time, which left Friedel with his hands on his hips, and United fans grateful for the point.

Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Matteo, Amoruso, Short, Thompson, Ferguson, Tugay, Pedersen, Stead, Dickov. Subs: Emerton, De Pedro, Enckelman, Johansson, Yorke.

Man Utd: Howard, Gary Neville, Spector, Silvestre, O'Shea, Ronaldo, Djemba-Djemba, Kleberson, Giggs, Scholes, Smith. Subs: Phil Neville, Saha, Bellion, Carroll, Miller.

Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).