Seasiders denied controversial penalty when leading 2-0Manchester United managed an incredible comeback to continue their unbeaten record in the league as they won 3-2 against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.
Craig Cathcart and DJ Campbell had put the Seasiders into a well deserved lead at half time, but Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez scored two goals in quick succession to fire the Red Devils back on level terms before the Bulgarian struck again to put United five points clear at the top in a scintillating 16 minute period for the visitors.
This game was originally due to be played back in December but was postponed due to a freezing Bloomfield Road pitch. Holloway might have been relieved as United had just thrashed Blackburn Rovers 7-0, however the visitors went into Tuesday night’s fixture still undefeated all season and hammered Birmingham City 5-0 at the weekend, so there would be no blessing in disguise for the Tangerines boss.
United made four changes to the squad that played on Saturday. Rafael returned to the squad after suspension and also introduced to the fray Chris Smalling, Paul Scholes and Darren Gibson, although the two latter struggled to make much of an impact in the first half and were overshadowed by their opposite counterparts.
Influential Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam put in a transfer request earlier this week but Ian Holloway remained confident that the Scot would still put in the kind of performance which has been pushing his value up to £10 million.
And the Scot definitely did not disappoint - he was everywhere in the first half and it was he who put a fantastic corner into the area, where defender Cathcart attacked the ball and bulleted a header past Van der Sar after 15 minutes, which sprung the game into action.
United were complaining that Patrice Evra- who had been caught in the face- was not allowed time to adopt his defensive position after receiving some treatment off the pitch but the goal stood - arguably it would not have made a difference.
The visitors looked to raise the tempo of the match as they searched for a way back into the game. But it was nearly the Seasiders that doubled their lead on 25 minutes. Adam again delivered a teasing ball and with no Blackpool strikers attacking the cross, Vidic almost put the ball past his own 'keeper.
A weak clearance from the United defence almost let Elliot Grandin in but he was leaning back and from 12 yards out blazed his shot harmlessly over Van der Sar’s goals.
A Nani cross on 37 minutes summed up United’s first half and frustration as he had players waiting in the box to pounce on the opportunity if it presented itself, but he overshot his cross much to the delight of the Blackpool fans.
David Vaughan was next to test Van der Sar as his drilled low shot from 20 yards was pushed out for a corner. But the home side incredibly went 2-0 up from the resulting corner on 44 minutes. Charlie Adam delivered another dangerous cross in, the ball was flicked on at the front post and there was Campbell to knock the ball into net at the back post.
Paul Scholes went into the book just before the half time whistle for a needless trip on the illustrious Vaughan, demonstrating the sort of game United were having. Blackpool led 2-0 at the interval and it was fully deserved.
God is a DJ | Campbell puts Blackpool 2-0 up at half time
United have been known for their comebacks in the second half but it was Blackpool that nearly made it three inside 20 seconds of the restart. Gary Taylor-Fletcher got to the by line and cut the ball back, but Rafael was there to stop a certain goal.
Nani had a great opportunity for the away side moments later but he took a swipe at thin air and the opportunity was gone.
Blackpool fans were shouting for a penalty a few minutes later as Luke Varney took on Rafael after a delightful pass from Adam.
The Brazilian bundled him over in the box, although the referee judged that the striker went down a little too easy.
The hour mark came and the score remained the same with United really struggling to make any sort of impact in the match. Adam received a caution for a tackle from behind on Nani but that was not to tarnish the midfielder’s performance.
Scholes hit a stinging drive on 64 minutes which Kingson had to be aware of and force out for a corner but it was better play by the away side.
Javier Hernandez replaced an ineffective Wayne Rooney to try and rectify the Red Devils position in the match on 67 minutes and he turned the game on its head.
Scholes was doing all he could to try and get his side back in the match. His half volley looked to be heading towards goal but hit Jean Baptiste and went out for a corner.
Hernandez should have scored on 71 minutes after he ran in behind the Blackpool defence, and expertly controlled the ball before trying to slide the ball under Kingson but there was not enough pace on his effort to reach the goal.
But the pressure was mounting and it was only a matter of time before the home side conceded. Nani thread a lovely pass into the path of Darren Fletcher who slid ball into the path of Berbatov who had been quiet all game but could not miss the easy opportunity.
The comeback was completed on 74 minutes and it was that man Hernandez, who beat the offside trap as he latched onto a pass from Giggs and tucked it past Kingson in goal.
But United were not finished yet and an amazing victory was completed when Berbatov got his second and the visitors third in an unbelievable 16 minute period for the Red Devils.
He took the ball past a very weary Blackpool defence and drove the ball past Kingson, silencing the Bloomfield crowd.
It was a valiant effort by Blackpool after a majestic first half performance but they eventually ran out of steam as United held on for victory.