BLACKBURN: Superb late goals from Luis Antonio Valencia and substitute Ashley Young fired champions Manchester United to a 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers which sent them five points clear of closest pursuers  City.

Blackburn played tenaciously throughout but their disappointed home fans were streaming from the ground in the closing five minutes after seeing United push their team back into the bottom three of the Premier League.

Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea made three fine saves in the first half which looked all the more important after the two stunning strikes in the last 10 minutes which flew past opposite number Paul Robinson in Rovers’ goal.

The margin of victory also took United within one strike of pulling level with City on goal difference. In points terms, United could be eight points clear of stuttering Manchester City before the latter they travel to Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.

United next meet QPR, who moved out of the drop zone at the expense of Blackburn following this result, at Old Trafford before City meet the Gunners later that day.

The win was United’s seventh league success in a row and manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: “We’ve still got seven games left. In my experience of these situations, it doesn’t matter what the points are at the moment. It matters about next Sunday’s game.”

He conceded that United had been made to work hard by Blackburn. He said: “It was a long night. We had to persevere and persevere. We got our rewards. We weren’t making any clear-cut chances for a long time. But it was an important win and it typifies the history of the club.”

Ferguson praised De Gea, saying: “His progress is obvious for all to see. He’s growing in stature and confidence. He kept us in the game. ”

# # # #