Manchester United 2 Blackburn 1
By Peter ORourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
First half goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy and Kleberson - his first for the club - were enough to give United all three points although they were made to sweat for the victory after Brett Emerton's second half strike.
Blackburn started the brighter of the two sides, but they fell behind on 23 minutes as van Nistelrooy netted with United's first real worthwhile effort on goal.
Van Nistelrooy beat the Rovers offside trap to latch onto Quinton Fortune's clever flick-on into the box and the Dutchman clinically dispatched his shot past Brad Friedel for his first Premiership goal in five games
The visitors tried to fight their way back into the game and Matt Jansen forced Tim Howard into two routine saves with a lob from the edge of the box and a header from Barry Ferguson's cross.
The hosts doubled their lead on 37 minutes as Brazilian midfielder Kleberson marked his return from injury with his first goal for the club after a sweeping move by United.
Roy Keane started the move with a great ball to van Nistelrooy and the Dutchman sent a dangerous cross into the box to Fortune who expertly laid the ball into Kleberson's path for the South American to sweep his left foot shot past Friedel.
United were now in total control and Keane forced Friedel into a fine block at his near post with a blistering shot wide on the left-hand side of the box, four minutes before the break.
Blackburn came out in determined fashion in the second half and Howard had a lucky escape after 50 minutes when he spilled a shot from substitute Paul Gallagher, but Rio Ferdinand was on hand to clear the danger.
United went up the other end and almost added a third a minute later with John O'Shea rising highest to meet Gary Neville's cross with a powerful header, but Friedel produced a superb fingertip save to push the Irishman's header onto and over the crossbar.
Blackburn deservedly dragged themselves back in the contest on 62 minutes as Emerton brilliantly latched onto a slide-rule pass from Flitcroft to burst through on goal and the Australian ace kept his cool to fire past Howard.
The hosts missed a glorious chance to restore their two-goal advantage on 67 minutes as Ferdinand somehow blazed his shot from just six yards out over the crossbar after being set-up by van Nistelrooy.
Blackburn threw everything into attack in the final quarter, but United held firm to move one point clear of Arsenal at the top of the table and inflict a sixth defeat in seven games on unlucky Rovers.