Red Devils get the point they need to win 19th league title
LONDON (AP) ― Wayne Rooney secured Manchester United’s record 19th English Premier League title on Saturday, scoring on a penalty kick to salvage a 1-1 draw at Blackburn and overshadow rival Manchester City’s first major trophy in 35 years.
Yaya Toure scored at Wembley to give Manchester City’s expensively assembled side a 1-0 win over Stoke in the FA Cup final, but the victory couldn’t eclipse United’s accomplishment.
Rooney drove home the spot kick in the 73rd minute after Javier Hernandez was fouled, ensuring that United overhauled Liverpool as the most successful team in English league history.
Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney scores his side’s equalizer. (AP-Yonhap News)
“Twenty years ago we were nowhere near Liverpool,” said midfielder Ryan Giggs, who has played in each of United’s 12 Premier League-winning teams since 1993. “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.”
Alex Ferguson’s side needed only a point to regain the Premier League trophy from Chelsea with one game to spare, but the visitors fell behind after 20 minutes when Brett Emerton capitalized on poor defending and goalkeeping.
United’s breakthrough came after a moment of controversy, when the striker Hernandez was tripped in the area by goalkeeper Paul Robinson.
Blackburn’s players felt Hernandez went down too lightly, and the penalty was only awarded by referee Phil Dowd after he consulted his assistant amid protests from both teams.
Rooney kept his cool to score his 15th goal of the season.
“I was terrified, the ref took a long time to give it,” Rooney said. “I had to compose myself. I’d been practicing all week.”
United can end the season with both the Premier League trophy and European Cup if it can overcome Barcelona at Wembley Stadium on May 28.
Without an FA Cup title since 1969 or a trophy of any kind since the 1976 League Cup, City outplayed a Stoke side in its first ever FA Cup final.
Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen saved a curling effort by man-of-the-match Mario Balotelli that was heading to the top corner and David Silva shot over the bar before another shot from Balotelli was deflected into Toure’s path.
The Ivory Coast midfielder, who scored the winning goal at the same end in the semifinal win over United, smashed in a fierce shot to send the City fans in the 88,643 crowd wild.
“I can say only that I’m very happy for all the supporters,” City manager Roberto Mancini said. “After many years they deserve to win this trophy.”
Last season’s champion, Chelsea, hosts Newcastle on Sunday, when Arsenal hosts Aston Villa, Liverpool hosts Tottenham, Fulham is at Birmingham and West Ham goes to Wigan.
West Ham is last with 33 points and will be relegated if Birmingham avoids defeat. Wigan has 36 points and Blackpool has 39 after DJ Campbell scored twice Saturday in a 4-3 win over Bolton.
Blackpool now trails Birmingham only on goal difference, although Wolverhampton Wanderers won 3-1 at Sunderland to have their hopes of relegation similarly boosted. Wolves are now 16th with 40 points.
West Bromwich Albion won 1-0 against Everton in Saturday’s other game to move up to 10th place in the standings.
Park Ji-sung (right) and Wayne Rooney celebrate their league title.(AFP-Yonhap News)
Eintracht Frankfurt was relegated from the Bundesliga with a 3-1 defeat in Berlin at champion Borussia Dortmund on the last day of the season, while Wolfsburg ensured survival with a 3-1 win at Hoffenheim.
Dortmund clinched the title as far back as April 30, but waited until Saturday for its official title celebrations, while Frankfurt players were left to consider the club’s relegation to the second division for the fourth time.
Borussia Moenchengladbach drew 1-1 at Hamburger SV to finish 16th and goes into a two-game playoff with the third-place team from division two, either Bochum or Greuther Fuerth.
An own goal from Freiburg’s Cedrick Makiadi was enough for Bayer Leverkusen to win 1-0 at Freiburg and secure second place in the Bundesliga and, with it, the automatic Champions League place.
Leverkusen finished ahead of third-place Bayern Munich, which beat Stuttgart 2-1 at home.
Hannover beat Nuremberg 3-1 to secure fourth place over Mainz, which defeated relegated St. Pauli 2-1 at home. Elsewhere, Kaiserslautern beat Werder Bremen 3-2, and Schalke lost 2-1 at Cologne.
Ludovic Obraniak scored on a free kick in the 89th minute as Lille beat defending champion Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 to win the French Cup for the sixth time, ending a 56-year trophy drought and taking the first step toward a domestic double.
Obraniak, who came on as a second-half substitute, took the free kick near the right touchline in the last minute of regulation time and PSG goalkeeper Gregory Coupet watched the ball sail over his head and into the left corner.
Coupet saved Mathieu Debuchy’s penalty kick a minute later, but French league leader Lille held on to win its first trophy since the 1955 French Cup.
Ahead of Sunday’s French league games, Lille was four points ahead of second-place Marseille with three matches remaining. Lille won the double in 1945-46 season and its only other league title in 1953-54.
AC Milan celebrated its 18th league title and first since 2004 before and during a 4-1 win over Cagliari.
The Rossoneri, who clinched first place last week, went on an open top bus ride through city streets thronged with fans before leading a procession to San Siro. Once at the stadium, players, their wives and children celebrated in front of the fans, which included Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the team owner.
Robinho scored twice, and Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf added goals. Filippo Inzaghi, Milan’s 37-year-old forward, entered in the 82nd minute, his first appearance since tearing left knee ligaments on Nov. 10. Andrea Pirlo came on to start the second half ― Pirlo, Seedorf, Massimo Ambrosini and Alessandro Nesta are among the AC Milan veterans whose contracts expire at the end of this season.
Also Saturday, Lazio scored three goals in the second half to keep up its pursuit of a Champions League place with a 4-2 win over Genoa.
A day before the Rangers and Celtic fight it out for the Scottish Premier League title, Inverness won 2-1 in Glasgow at relegated Hamilton to finish atop of the division’s second tier.
The league split into two groups of six sides several weeks ago and Richie Foran and Adam Rooney scored Saturday to give Inverness bragging rights in the lower section ― effectively seventh place in the overall standings.
St. Johnstone was already assured of eighth place before its 0-0 draw at St. Mirren, but Aberdeen took ninth with a 3-1 win at Hibernian.
Defending champion Rangers leads second-place Celtic by a point ahead of Sunday’s final matches. Rangers is at Kilmarnock and Celtic hosts Motherwell.