19/04/2008 19:01, Report by Nick Coppack
Report: Blackburn 1 United 1
Carlos Tevez again scored a vital late goal as United rescued a point at Ewood Park to remain in pole position in the championship race.
The Reds were far from fluent on a frustrating afternoon but just as he’s done against Tottenham and Lyon in recent months, United’s Argentinean striker popped up to find the net with time running out.
In the 88th minute, Tevez showed lightning reactions to turn in Paul Scholes’ flick-on from close range and cancel out Roque Santa Cruz’s first-half opener. But more than simply earn a point on an afternoon where it looked for long periods like United would return to Manchester empty-handed, Tevez’s goal dramatically strengthened the Reds’ title challenge with just three games to play.
Sir Alex’s men now travel to Stamford Bridge next Saturday with a three-point lead and a significantly better goal difference than rivals Chelsea. And so, while the performance at Ewood Park was hardly vintage United, it may yet turn out to be highly significant.
The manager certainly knew the importance of this fixture and, despite a Champions League semi-final to look forward to on Wednesday, named a strong side. The only notable absence was Edwin van der Sar, who was left out due to a slight groin injury. The Dutchman is expected, however, to be fit to face Barcelona in mid-week.
Nemanja Vidic made his first appearance since injuring his knee in Rome 18 days ago, while Tevez partnered Wayne Rooney up front. That meant Gerard Pique and Ji-sung Park had to be content with places on the bench, while Ben Foster, Nani and John O’Shea joined the pair in the dug-out.
On a cold and windy afternoon at Ewood Park, the Reds took time to warm up. Indeed, the home side almost went in front on six minutes when Roque Santa Cruz’s shot fell into the path of Jason Roberts. Tomasz