x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Three points first, entertain later

United not yet out of third gear but are well placed in table

Dimitar Berbatov, right, scores against Blackburn.
Dimitar Berbatov, right, scores against Blackburn.

Winning is everything in football. Entertaining the fans is just a bonus. It was not very pretty for the supporters at Old Trafford on Saturday night, but a 2-0 victory over a battling Blackburn side kept Manchester United two points behind the Premier League leaders Chelsea. Striker Dimitar Berbatov, who opened the scoring in the 55th minute, told ESPN that he thought the fans would be understanding of the stuttering performances of late. He said: "As long as we keep on winning I think everyone will be happy.

"It is always difficult to play against Blackburn but when you score you are relieved. You feel that you have done something special and that was the case." Wayne Rooney's eighth goal of the season made the game safe towards the end and Sir Alex Ferguson was pleased his side got back on track following the defeat by Liverpool. However, he confirmed that Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs would miss the Champions League match against CSKA Moscow tomorrow through injury.

The Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce has now seen his side concede six goals in two games to United and Chelsea, but he believes the club may be over the worst of the swine flu virus which affected him and a number of players. Martin Olsson and Jason Roberts both sat out the 2-0 defeat and Allardyce said: "It may come and go, but the doctor tells me the strain is at its weakest now rather than getting stronger as the winter comes in."

Elsewhere, Roy Hodgson has warned the Premier League's top teams not to write off Liverpool in the title race after his Fulham side consigned Rafa Benitez's team to their fifth league defeat of the season with a 3-1 victory at Craven Cottage. But Hodgson said: "I remember not so long ago Manchester United were lingering in the middle of the table almost half way through the season and went on to win it."