Manchester United Upset by Last-Place Blackburn 3-2 as Arsenal, Villa Win

Blackburn Rovers upset Manchester United 3-2 to move off the bottom of the standings in English soccer’s Premier League and also denied the defending champions the chance to take sole lead in the title race.

Grant Hanley’s header with 10 minutes remaining prevented United from taking over the league lead. Ayegbeni Yakubu contributed two goals as Rovers won just their third game to move above Bolton to 19th in the 20-team league.

“This result’s massive,” Blackburn manager Steve Kean, who has been heavily criticized by his club’s fans, told ESPN. “To come here with such a young side and win it can be a real springboard for us to go and kick on.”

Dimitar Berbatov scored twice for defending league champion United, which remains tied with Manchester City at the top of the standings with 45 points. City plays at Sunderland on Sunday, Jan. 1.

“It’s a disappointment, I couldn’t believe it,” United manager Alex Ferguson, who celebrated his 70th birthday today, told ESPN. “Nobody expected that.”

Arsenal moved into fourth place with a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers, while Aston Villa was a 3-1 winner at Chelsea. Swansea rallied for a 1-1 tie against Tottenham, Wigan earned a late 2-2 draw at Stoke, Bolton and Wolverhampton finished 1- 1 as did Norwich and Fulham.

Yakubu, a Nigerian, gave Blackburn the lead in Manchester with a penalty kick in the 16th minute after Berbatov pulled down Christopher Samba. Yakubu then made it 2-0 early in the second half with his 12th league goal.

Van Persie Goal

Berbatov scored just 27 seconds after the kickoff for United’s 1,500th Premier League goal, and tied the game 10 minutes later. Blackburn re-gained the lead on Hanley’s goal with 10 minutes left as the defender beat David De Gea to head a corner kick into the air, then nodded the ball into the net.

“Look at the way we played today,” Yakubu said after Blackburn’s second win over United in 18 Premier League meetings. “We fought for each other, we gave everything.”

Robin van Persie scored his league-leading 17th goal to send Arsenal over Chelsea into fourth. The Dutchman finished the calendar year with 35 league goals, one off Alan Shearer’s record set in 1995.

Bolton fell a point behind Blackburn after its home draw with Wolves, while Scott Sinclair’s 84th-minute goal earned Swansea the home tie with third-place Tottenham.

Stylian Petrov and Darren Bent scored in the final seven minutes to give Aston Villa the win at Chelsea, which is winless in four games, while Simeon Jackson scored in stoppage time as Norwich earned the home draw with Fulham.

Ben Watson scored with an 87th-minute penalty to give 10- man Wigan a 2-2 draw at Stoke. Wigan’s Gary Caldwell was sent off in the 77th minute for a deliberate handball.

West Brom hosts Everton in tomorrow’s other Premier League match.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at bbensch@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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