United take race to final day

2010-05-02 19:20

London - Manchester United set up a dramatic last-day shoot-out with Chelsea for the English Premiership title after Nani struck to seal a 1-0 win at Sunderland on Sunday.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side showed they are determined to keep fighting until the last moments of the season after Chelsea's 2-0 win at Liverpool earlier in the day meant only a victory would realistically maintain United's bid for a record 19th top flight title.

United got the win they needed thanks to Portugal international Nani's third league goal of the season midway through the first-half at the Stadium of Light.

The margin of victory would have been far more handsome had Dimitar Berbatov not wasted three clear chances to reward United's dominance.

Despite the win, Ferguson's side go into the last day as significant under-dogs.

After their comfortable victory at Anfield, Chelsea head towards Sunday's final fixtures with a single-point advantage and vastly superior goal difference in their efforts to secure a first title in four years.

It means Carlo Ancelotti's side need only to match United's result as they host Wigan.

Only victory for United at home to Stoke City will give them hope of clinching a record fourth consecutive Premier League crown.

Wayne Rooney marked his return from a one-match injury absence by almost breaking the deadlock inside seven minutes, but the United forward's shot was saved by Craig Gordon, with Ryan Giggs' close-range follow-up blocked by Phil Bardsley.

In front of a crowd of almost 48 000, which included England coach Fabio Capello's right-hand man Franco Baldini, Sunderland boss Steve Bruce had insisted there would be no favours for his former club as he went in search of his first victory over his mentor Ferguson in 14 attempts.

John Mensah, who succumbed to a knee problem inside 20 minutes, and Lorik Cana both headed narrowly wide from early set-pieces, but they were sporadic forays from the hosts as the influential Giggs clipped the woodwork with an angled 18-yard drive after good work from Patrice Evra.

In a rare scare, Edwin Van der Sar was forced to tip over a 25-yard Steed Malbranque effort destined for the top corner, but it was United who broke the deadlock on 28 minutes as their weight of pressure finally told.

Giggs's harmless-looking cross from the left was turned into something altogether more threatening by neat inter-passing form Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Fletcher inside Sunderland's box before the ball found its way to Nani, who made no mistake with an angled drive into the bottom corner from 12 yards.

Michael Turner almost diverted Giggs' cross into his own net shortly afterwards, while the unmarked Berbatov spurned the first of three golden opportunities to secure the points either side of half-time.

First, he fired wide from a narrow angle after Rooney and Nani carved Sunderland open with ease.

The Bulgarian was even more culpable shortly after the interval when, stretching to meet Rooney's cross in front of an open goal, he somehow managed to balloon his shot wide.

A close range header over from Giggs' tempting cross capped an unwanted hat-trick for the former Tottenham forward.

Gordon again came to Sunderland's rescue when a slip by Kieran Richardson let in Nani after a neat Fletcher back-heel, as the Scotland international stood firm to keep out the midfielder's point blank effort.

Turner cleared off the line late on from substitute Michael Carrick, but United's wastefulness didn't matter in the end as they secured a fully deserved victory to leave the destination of the title in doubt until the season's final day.


  • manyikos - 2010-05-03 07:18


  • Man U - 2010-05-03 07:19

    Well done boys! scoreline should have reflected more goals but 3 points is 3 points at the end of the day! Pitty Liverfool had other ideas for us and i'm sure Wigan will be a much stronger test for Chelsea this coming weekend! As for Chelsea, you guys really made Pool look like amateurs. Great season of EPL soccer, no matter who you support!

  • Soccer fan - 2010-05-03 07:33

    Well done Utd, it is really impressive that you guys have managed to take the title race to the final day, especially after losing two top players this season. Good Luck, may the best team win.... GUNNERS will be back next season...

  • Lamps_8 - 2010-05-03 07:51

    @ Man U- I couldn't Agree more with you.Its been an Absolute Screamer of a Season & for United & Chelsea to make Life so Difficult for one another is Proof that any of these 2 teams Deserve to Win.Wigan on Sunday will be Chelsea's Ultimate Test.Good Luck to Chelsea & United & May the Best team Win!!!

  • Nevermind - 2010-05-03 07:57

    Liverpool have proven they are not one of the top sides and they deserve to be where they are how pathetic can Gerrard be its like he gave that pass on purpose he belongs in 1st division soccer or some a small high school league if he is lucky. Wigan a definetly a better side than liverpool

  • nevermind - 2010-05-03 07:59

    Ow and berbatov is pathetic he needs to leave the team no sense or urgency he has recieved enough protection from the press it enough now this guy needs to be sold he is pathetic.

  • Man U - 2010-05-03 08:41

    And to think that Man Utd were written off before a ball was kicked this season! No Ronaldo and Tevez meant that we would be fighting for 5th place and below for some blind soccer followers! But to still be in there with a good chance till the last game shows that life will always carry on at the Theatre of Dreams no matter who comes and goes! The Red Devils have made us proud this season wether we win the league or not!

  • Shaheen - 2010-05-03 08:50

    United are really clutching at straws now. Hope for Wigan to somehow hold Chelsea at The Bridge is a little too far fetched. All I can say is that Chelsea and United have put up a tremendous struggle to earn this seasons Premiership Title. United had the upper hand, then Chelsea, United again until the past couple of weeks Chelsea are now odd on favourites for the Title. To Chelsea, should they win the league (how ever thin those straws are, it's worth clutching until the final whistle of the season :P), then no complaints from my side. The better team would have won the league this season, and broken United's 3 season stranglehold on the League. You can't win them all, that's for sure, but to take it to the Final Day, when everyone has written you off at the start of the season is not bad. Until then, we wait for final outcome. UNITED! UNITED!! UNITED!!!

  • Lineker - 2010-05-03 09:04

    Having watched the Liverpool match I was shocked at how easily Liverpool capitulated . The deliberate back-pass by Gerrard was telegraphed so clearly that a blind man could have foreseen his intentions . Liverpool should be investigated by the Premier League for bringing the game into disrepute . Having said that , United have only themselves to blame for their current plight , Fergie should have replaced that idiot Berbatov ages ago - the man is just plain useless . So glad that Spurs let him and that other clown Carrick , go . Why don't United play their youngsters like Marcheda , Diouf , Welbeck etc .

  • Ricky Bobby - 2010-05-03 09:55

    where does all this "written off" in the begining of the season bull*** come from - Chelsea were always favourites and United second favourites - maybe you guys are just telling yourselves that to feel better or something but dont talk sh*** - they were favourites

  • Big K - 2010-05-03 10:12

    Its been a fricken awesome season guys and really whoever wins on Sunday will deserve it, but hats off to both Chelsea and United, Our teams really put on a dramatic show of football and very exciting!!! May the Best Team Win!! GGMU. Keep Keeping On Boys!!!!

  • Man U - 2010-05-03 11:06

    @Ricky Bobby: We were "writen off" by retarded anti-Man Utd fans before the season kicked off, I was refering to that bul$h!t. Not to what the bookies were thinking, as we are always favourites or close favourites as predicted by them! So understand what we, some of us, fans are trying to bring accross before you come out guns blazing!

  • Ryan - 2010-05-03 11:26

    @Lineker , I hear what you say mate and do agree with you however it has been that kind of a season though where the lead has changed hands 21 times to date ! The team that deserves to win the league will win the league and it WILL be either United or Chelsea - no other teams have shown their mettle as much as these two . Chelsea have been worthy opponents , regardless of the outcome . GGMU !

  • Etienne - 2010-05-03 11:28

    If I am not mistaken, on the 26th of September 2009 there was a game scheduled for which Chelsea were big favorites. Chelsea were unbeaten under new coach Carlo Ancelotti. That afternoon they concede 3 goals and were outplayed by the non favorites. I think I remeber the oposition being something like 25/1. and the team that hammered chelsea 3-1 that day was .........WIGAN

  • ManUtd4Eva - 2010-05-03 12:52

    Well done to all teams except Liverpool, greatest disappointment of the season. Definately don't deserve any recognition. Poor Captain, Poor Team. Thanks for the spectacular entertainment! Either way it goes, well done to Chelsea and Manchester United. Thanks to you guys for a season full of sportsmanship and bickering!! LOL. The best part is ... being South Africans, the World Cup is around the corner, so when does the party start?

  • AL @ Etienne - 2010-05-03 15:26

    I hear you!!!! Many people have forgotten about that. To do it twice though is asking the world.

  • Big K - 2010-05-03 15:36

    @ Manu4eva - Paddy's Randburg, bram fischer!! - 11 june 2010, be der bud!!

  • Goergie Best - 2010-05-03 17:44

    @Soccer Fan, is that you? U must have had it all this morning to be so nice to "Manure"

  • From Etienne @ AL - 2010-05-04 06:27

    I know, but as a MAN UTD supporter, I have to hope twice is nice hey?

  • Anon - 2010-05-04 15:01

    No matter what the outcome is this weekend, my team has done me proud this season. Yes, the league is Chelsea's to lose; yes, they are playing at home against strugglers Wigan who do not really have much to play for, Yes, one would expect Chelsea to get the 3 points BUT there is always hope...the championship is not over until the 2 fat boys have sung (Fergie and Ancelotti). C'mon Reds beat Stoke and let faith (and Wigan) deal us a helping hand - one thing is certain your performance will certainly be better than Liverpool's

  • Shaheen - 2010-05-05 12:47

    Well, everyone seems to have forgotten that anything can happen in football. Two seasons ago all Chelsea had to do was slot the 5th penalty, they had the shoot-out literally sewn up, and we all know what happened after the Terry penalty miss. So... Chelsea of all Clubs should know, nothing is over until the final whistle - premature celebrations count for nothing. Also last season they were literally into the Champions League Final, then Iniesta scored. No conclusion is foregone. That's all I'll say

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