21/02/2009 16:15, Report by Nick Coppack
United 2 Blackburn 1
United went eight points clear at the top of the league after victory over Blackburn Rovers on Saturday evening.
As is customary of late, Sir Alex’s men won by the narrowest of margins, although for the first time since November the Reds conceded a league goal. United were made to work hard for the points but goals from Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo proved enough to seal an 11th consecutive win in all competitions.
Sir Alex made five changes to the side that beat Fulham 3-0 in midweek. Jonny Evans came in for Nemanja Vidic to get some more minutes under his belt before United’s trip to the San Siro on Tuesday (the Serbian is suspended for that match), although the youngster now looks unlikely to play in that match after limping off injured after 61 minutes. Elsewhere, Rafael replaced John O’Shea at right-back, Wayne Rooney was handed his first start in six weeks and Nani replaced Ji-sung Park on the left wing.
The biggest selection shock came in goal, where Edwin van der Sar was rested in the league for the first time since the end of October. The Dutchman, who has sent goalkeeping records tumbling in recent weeks, was replaced by Tomasz Kuszczak.
The Polish stopper had precious little to do early on. Instead, it was Blackburn goalkeeper Paul Robinson who had most cause for concern in the opening minutes. Paul Scholes, fresh from one of his best performances in a United shirt three days earlier, shot narrowly wide in the third minute after finding space in midfield to run at the visitors' defence. Sixty seconds later, Cristiano Ronaldo’s cross curled just beyond the far post.
Scholes blasted wide once more on 12 minutes when a half-cleared corner fell to him on the edge of the box. Moments earlier, Rooney would have succeeded in playing Michael Carrick in on goal had a Blackburn defender not intervened with a last-ditch sliding tackle. More last-ditch defending saved the visitors on 17