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Champions earn a point

10 Feb 2010 22:49:57

Champions earn a point

Manchester United collected a valuable point in the Barclays Premier League title race as they drew 1-1 with Aston Villa despite losing Nani to a red card that will rule him out of the Carling Cup final.Nani was deservedly sent off for a poor first-half challenge on Stiliyan Petrov but it made little difference to the visitors, who dominated for long periods.United might have been fortunate to survive a late Villa penalty appeal when John Carew went down under Jonny Evans' tackle, but it would have been harsh luck on Sir Alex Ferguson's men, who will regard it as a point gained rather than two lost after James Collins scored another own goal for United to cancel out Carlos Cuellar's opener.After a promising few weeks for Nani, thought and composure were both lacking when the Portuguese launched himself at Petrov on halfway. Peter Walton had no hesitation in dismissing him and ruling him out of the Wembley showpiece on February 28.It brought to an end a tactical opening half-hour which Villa led for precisely nine minutes. After wasting a corner, Stewart Downing was offered a second chance to cross into the United box. Rafael stuck out a boot to make the initial clearance but the ball looped up handily for Cuellar, who got an impressive amount of power into his header and, from 15 yards, sent it arcing over Edwin van der Sar.But the United fans were soon celebrating an equaliser as Ryan Giggs' cross-shot from the left was turned into his own net by Collins. It took into double figures a quite staggering number of own goals for United this term - a clear second on the club's scoring chart and nearly half as many as Wayne Rooney.


PA

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