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Saturday, December 31, 2011
Blackburn shocks United on Hanley goal


Last-place Blackburn marched into Old Trafford and ruined Sir Alex Ferguson's 70th birthday Saturday, shocking Manchester United 3-2 in EPL action. Here are five notes on the stunner in Manchester …

• Blackburn's win was the club's second at Old Trafford in the last 49 years. Rovers' only other victory in that span was a 2-1 triumph in September 2005, when a brace from Morten Gamst Pedersen trumped a Ruud van Nistelrooy strike. United was aiming to win six straight home league games over Blackburn for the first time ever.

• Blackburn finishes with a total of seven league wins in calendar year 2011, the fewest of any team to spend the entire year in the top flight. Oddly enough, three of those wins were against traditional "Big Four" clubs. Rovers beat Liverpool at home in January, along with Arsenal and Manchester United this season.

• Ferguson's birthday was wrecked by fellow Scot Grant Hanley, the 20-year-old defender who scored the game-winning goal. Entering this match, Hanley had played only 17 league matches and had as many career goals as own goals (one each). His only previous goal was against Fulham at Craven Cottage in March.

• Despite the loss, Ferguson becomes the second 70-year-old to manage in the Premier League, joining Sir Bobby Robson, who managed Newcastle until August 2004, when he was 71 years and 192 days old. To top that mark, Ferguson would have to manage at the start of the 2013-14 season.

• United's 45 points from 19 matches still match the team's fourth-most at this juncture in a Premier League season. In three of the previous four campaigns in which United earned at least 45 points through 19 games, the Red Devils won the league title. The exception was 2003-04, when Arsenal's Invincibles trailed by a point at the halfway mark before running away to win the championship by 11 points over Chelsea.