David De Gea's horrendous flapping at a corner led to Grant Hanley following up on his header by bulling through to the ball again for Blackburn's winner and his debut Premier League goal. It was a shocking win for the cellar dwellers and it completely knocked the sails off the celebratory mood enveloping Old Trafford before the game on the occasion of Sir Alex's 70th birthday.
Ayegbeni Yakubu is having a breakout year. The Nigerian whose undoubted talent has been previously undermined by lack of application scored twice. The first was through a penalty as Dimitar Berbatov brought down Chris Samba and soon after Utd went down two as the Yak showing his trademark strength burst through maintaining his balance and slotted the ball past De Gea's legs.
A shellshocked Utd responded through two Berbatov goals but only after Anderson was brought in for the disappointing Javier Hernandez. The move freed up Antonio Valencia who was a handful down the right and it was his endeavours that led to the equalizing goals. The decision to bench Wayne Rooney, Darron Gibson, and Jonny Evans, for their Boxing Day indiscipline left Utd second guessing the lack of experience on the pitch. It also saw Michael Carrick playing makeshift center back. And the Yak made him pay as he caught him flatfooted as he surged ahead for his second goal.
For Blackburn and their beleaguered manager Steve Kean, this was the perfect New Year's gift. Who would have thought this possible 90 minutes before? Chris Samba and young Adam Henley were there at the right time and place to nullify Utd's efforts. And second string goalie Mark Bunn brought off some outstanding saves. Full marks to them for a courageous display transforming the theatre of dreams to a nightmare. 12/31/11 will be a day remembered for many a year to come.