Grant Hanley’s 80th-minute goal handed Blackburn Rovers a stunning 3-2 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford on the last day of 2011 to ensure Sir Alex Ferguson’s 70th birthday was one to forget.
However, with Blackburn under increasing pressure, a rare corner brought them a surprising, although deserved, winner.
Hanley beat United goalkeeper David de Gea to Morten Gamst Pedersen’s kick and, with the home defence slow to respond, the central defender reacted quickly and beat Rafael to the rebound to head in a memorable winning goal, just the second of his career.
United, who thus missed the opportunity to leap above Manchester City into first place, had been stunned by the opening goal, after 15 minutes during which they had enjoyed all the possession but failed to create an opening of note.
Arsenal win, Chelsea and spurs slip
London: Robin van Persie pipped Thierry Henry’s club-record of 34 goals scored in a calendar year when his 60th-minute goal secured a 1-0 victory for Arsenal against Queens Park Rangers to help the Gunners climb to fourth-place. Chelsea were defeated 1-3 at home by Aston Villa. Didier Drogba had put the hosts one up with a 23rd-minute penalty but goals from Stephen Ireland, Stiliyan Petrov and Darren Bent gave the visitors a win. Third-place Tottenham Hotspur were held 1-1 by Swansea. Earlier on Friday, Liverpool beat Newcastle 3-1 thanks to a Craig Bellamy brace.