Goalscorers: Robbie Blake 19
Burnley: Brian Jensen, Graham Alexander (Joey Gudjonsson 73), Andre Bikey, Clarke Carlisle, Tyrone Mears, Stephen Jordan, Grant McCann, Wade Elliott, Robbie Blake, Steven Fletcher (Steven Thompson 81), Martin Paterson (Chris Eagles 73)
Manchester United: Ben Foster, Wes Brown (Gary Neville 71), Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra, John O’Shea, Anderson (Antonio Valencia 59), Michael Carrick, Ji-Sung Park, Ryan Giggs, Michael Owen (Dimitar Berbatov 63), Wayne Rooney
Referee: Alan Wiley, Attendance: 20,872
After an absence of 33 years, top-flight football returned to Turf Moor and Burnley’s first-ever Premier League match at the ground was the one the fans had been waiting for all summer, as reigning champions Manchester United arrived in Lancashire.
Despite an opening day 2-0 loss to Stoke City, the home support of nearly 21,000 were keen not to miss this piece of history for their club. However, they surely were heading to the ground more in hope than expectation. Manchester United didn’t lose many early-season matches and could call on the likes of Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen and Ryan Giggs among their attacking options.
Owen was a summer arrival at Old Trafford on a free transfer from relegated Newcastle United and he should have marked his first competitive start for his new club with a goal inside two minutes. Patrice Evra produced a perfect delivery to the near post but the England forward couldn’t make any decisive contact and the chance was gone. Burnley went toe-to-toe with their more illustrious opponents and created their own openings. Steven Fletcher had two half-chances but couldn’t find the target, whilst Ben Foster, deputising for the injured Edwin van der Sar in the Manchester United goal, had to smother Martin Paterson when he attempted to round the goalkeeper.
In the 19th minute, Burnley took a shock lead. Ex-Manchester City defender Stephen Jordan produced a floating cross to the back post. Evra only got a partial header to it and the ball dropped perfectly to Robbie Blake. Blake produced a volley of the highest quality that flew past Foster at his near post. Although most goalkeepers would be criticised for being beaten at their near post, Foster couldn’t be blamed for this. It was a sublime strike from Blake and it left home supporters dreaming of the unlikely result coming true.
Owen missed another clear opportunity infront of the England boss Fabio Capello, heading wide from Wes Brown’s cross. Moments later, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side had a wonderful chance to equalise. Owen played through Evra, who was hauled down by the Burnley goalscorer Blake. Despite Owen and Rooney being on the pitch, it was Michael Carrick who was the surprise choice of penalty-taker. His spot-kick wasn’t firmly in the left-hand corner and Brian Jensen guessed right to save the penalty and become just as big as a hero as Blake on the night.
Into the second half and Blake nearly doubled his tally. He sent a curling free-kick wide of the post. Jensen’s fine evening continued with super saves to deny Ji-Sung Park and Giggs. The Clarets held on during four minutes of injury-time to record a famous victory, their first at Turf Moor against the Red Devils since September 1968. Their 2009-2010 season did end in relegation and manager Owen Coyle left in January for the Bolton Wanderers job but the supporters will always remember the night they beat Manchester United fair and square.