Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tevez Gains a Draw For United



Manchester United's 10th title in 16 Premier League seasons was plunged into doubt for more than an hour last night until Carlos Tevez finally managed to beat the heroic Brad Friedel with a header two minutes from the end of normal time.

Impending defeat on a bitterly cold April evening had sent a chill through the visiting supporters and brought a breath of fresh air to the race, offering Chelsea the chance to become champions by winning their last three games – starting at home to United on Saturday. Instead Tevez's header means the reigning champions can now afford to lose at Stamford Bridge and stay on top because of a vastly superior goal difference. A victory would effectively seal the title, with games against Wigan and West Ham to spare.

Although United's performance failed to reach the standards they have set over the season – especially in the first half – the game slowly became a dramatic one, with countless hair's-breadth decisions. Four strong penalty appeals (three of them to United) were turned down.

Sir Alex Ferguson's front four, for all their interchanging, failed to threaten in the opening half an hour and Blackburn deserved the lead given to them by Roque Santa Cruz's 20th goal of the season. Ferguson replaced Ryan Giggs with Nani, and as Cristiano Ronaldo emerged from an unusual shell, United at last demonstrated the quality that ought now to win another crown.

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