Rooney seals United's record 19th title

by AFP on May 15, 2011

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Socceroo Brett Emerton's goal could not prevent mighty Manchester United securing a record 19th English league crown as Wayne Rooney scored the title clincher in a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

United needed just a point from their clash with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park to regain the Premier League title from Chelsea and they got it when Rooney scored from the penalty spot 17 minutes from time after Rovers keeper Paul Robinson brought down Javier Hernandez.

Emerton had fired Rovers, still not certain of top-flight survival, into a 20th minute lead before Rooney settled United's nerves with a powerful spot-kick.

The result gave United, now in sole possession of a record they had shared with arch-rivals Liverpool an unassailable seven-point lead at the top of the English Premier League table, with closest pursuers Chelsea only able to win a maximum of six points from their two remaining matches.

"I was terrified, the ref took a long time to give it," Rooney said of the penalty.

"I had to compose myself, I'd been practising all week."

Rooney, who earlier in the season stunned United by handing in a transfer request, added: "After the year I've had, with the ups and downs, this is for the fans and the team."

United's latest triumph gave both manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Ryan Giggs a 12th English title.

"It's a tough league to win and it's still as special as ever," Giggs said.

Asked about suggestions the current team was not as good as previous United sides, he added: "We're champions and in the Champions League. We're rubbish aren't we?

"Twenty years ago we were nowhere near Liverpool. It's great credit to the club, the manager and the players and it's a good feeling to be ahead of our greatest rivals."

The draw ensured United wrapped up the domestic title ahead of both next week's clash with relegation threatened Blackpool and the Champions League final against Spanish giants Barcelona at Wembley in a fortnight.

"It's a bonus for us, now we can consider who should be rested and who should not be rested," said Ferguson, who vowed to respect all the other clubs facing the drop by fielding a competitive team against Blackpool.

"I know there is all this talk about what our team will be next week but, in fairness to all the clubs, we'll be fair, don't worry about, we'll go out to win that game."

At the other end of the table, Wolves climbed a point clear of the relegation zone after a 3-1 win away to Sunderland.

Former Sunderland defender Jody Craddock gave Wolves a 22nd minute lead on his return to the Stadium of Light before a failure to clear a corner allowed Stephane Sessegnon to smash home a 34th minute equaliser at the far post.

But Matt Jarvis, a half-time substitute, provided the cross from the right that allowed Steven Fletcher to head Wolves in at the far post.

George Elokobi sealed Wolves' victory with a header 12 minutes from time.

Blackpool - who started the day in the bottom three - remained in the relegation zone despite a dramatic 4-3 win at home to Bolton Wanderers ahead of their final game of the season away to Manchester United next weekend.

But victory put them level on 39 points with Birmingham, ahead of the Blues' match against Fulham on Sunday.

Five goals came in a frantic first half at Bloomfield Road with striker Kevin Davies firing visitors Bolton into a second minute lead only for Blackpool forward DJ Campbell to equalise seven minutes later.

Campbell then teed-up strike partner Jason Puncheon in the 19th minute as Blackpool went 2-1 in front.

But a defence that had conceded 71 league goals this season before this match kicked-off could not deny Bolton an equaliser through Matt Taylor's angled shot.

However, on the stroke of half-time, Campbell scored his second when he turned in Charlie Adam's cross.

Bolton though were back on level terms at 3-3 when Daniel Sturridge headed in Lee Chung-Yong's cross in the 53rd minute.

There was yet another twist when Adam, who led a sweeping counterattack, shot past Jussi Jaaskelainen from 15 yards to put Blackpool 4-3 in front with just under half an hour left.

Saturday's other match saw West Brom beat Everton 1-0, Youssouf Mulumbu scoring the only goal of the game at The Hawthorns.

Basement club West Ham are away to second-bottom Wigan on Sunday where defeat for the Hammers will see them relegated.

Sunday also sees second-placed Chelsea at home to Newcastle while Arsenal, still not assured of third place, face Aston Villa as Europa Cup League place rivals Liverpool and Tottenham clash at Anfield.