Barclays Premier League
Blackburn Rovers 2-3 Liverpool



Reds second choice goalkeeper Alexander Doni brings down Rovers' Junior Hoilett inside the penalty area to get himself a red card 



By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from Ewood Park 

An injury-time header from
Andy Carroll secured a vital 3-2 win for Liverpool after having another goalkeeper sent-off in an eventful match against Blackburn Rovers.

The game threw up numerous talking points with two penalties, five goals and even a sending-off for Liverpool's backup goalkeeper Alexander Doni- one which gives Kenny Dalglish a goalkeeper selection headache for the wrong reasons ahead of the Reds' FA Cup semi-final against Everton on Saturday with Brad Jones his only available shot-stopper.

With that game in mind, the visitors made six changes to the side which drew 1-1 with Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday. Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Stewart Downing dropped out of the squad entirely with Luis Suarez, Dirk Kuyt, Jose Enrique all taking places on the bench. This meant starting berths for Carroll, Maxi Rodriguez, Sebastian Coates, Craig Bellamy, Jay Spearing and the returning Glen Johnson.

Meanwhile, Blackburn made just two changes from their 3-0 loss to West Bromwich Albion as Morten Gamst-Pedersen and Jason Lowe were named as substitutes with Mauro Formica and Marcus Olsson coming in.

Despite their numerous changes, it did not take long for the Reds to put their noses in front. An out-of-character pin-point ball by Martin Skrtel, from his own box, found Bellamy deep on the right flank and the Welshman’s pace allowed him to get goal-side of the hosts' defence. He proceeded to drill a ball across the face of goal, just far enough away from the grasp of Robinson, allowing Rodriguez to oblige with a simple tap-in.

The Argentine then completed a quick-fire double with just 16 minutes on the clock. Shelvey robbed the ball on the half-way line and continued to stride towards goal before shooting from just inside the box. His shot was well stopped by Robinson, who parried after diving low to his right, but only as far as the feet of Carroll whose follow-up shot was blocked by Scott Dann and landed for Rodriguez to rifle in, this time on his left.



Blackburn have now conceded 70 Premier League goals this season- this is the joint highest with Wolves.


With Liverpool seemingly in control, Doni gave Dalglish and Liverpool an unnecessary goalkeeping problem as Hoilett found himself one-on-one with the Brazilian following a sloppy Jon Flanagan pass, only to be brought down by the Italian keeper after giving himself an open goal. Pepe Reina will also be completing his ban at the weekend following his daft dismissal in the previous away match- the 2-0 defeat at Newcastle.

Blackburn won this fixture 3-1 last season which spelled the end for then Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson- and it looked as though it was advantage Rovers. Brad Jones replaced the shaky Jon Flanagan, who was also on the brink of a red card after an early yellow from referee Anthony Taylor, to face a Yakubu effort from twelve yards. Despite it looking like Rovers had been handed a lifeline, the Nigerian hit a tame effort to Jones’ right which the Australian easily stopped.

However, Yakubu soon made up for his poor penalty attempt as a floated free-kick from David Dunn exploited a lapse in the Liverpool defence to find the striker who was unmarked and free to steer the ball into the bottom corner with his head.

Taking the 2-1 lead into the break, Dalglish would have prayed that the respite and some words of wisdom would help his 10 men hold onto the lead, but such an erratic game showed no signs of slowing.

Carroll nearly made a blistering start to the second half after the first corner of the game was swung in to the back post. The former Newcastle United man lost Grant Hanley but he was unable to get everything behind his diving header, seeing the ball go wide of the goal.



Before this match, Liverpool had won just one of their away matches in the league this season against sides in the bottom five.


Things then went from bad to worse for the Merseyside outfit as Yakubu charged down Jones’ clearance sending the ball into the air. As it fell, the substitute keeper was seen to hold the striker back leading the referee to award the second penalty of the game but, to the relief of Dalglish, just a yellow card.

Although the Reds perhaps got some luck with the decision, Yakubu showed no leniency this time as he stepped up for his second attempt from the spot. The former Everton man slipped the ball coolly down the middle to send Jones the wrong way and the home fans wild.

Yakubu’s leveller seemed to galvanize the ten-man visitors but they failed to capitalise on their dominance, rarely managing to overcome a capable back line to pose Robinson a problem.

Their inability to create clear-cut chances was then nearly punished as N’Zonzi drilled a diagonal ball across the box to try and find the on-rushing Hoilett but, despite the winger's golden touch of late, he could not manage to get a toe on the ball to turn it past Jones.

It seemed to rattle Dalglish’s men as a long ball onto the edge of their box was misjudged by Carroll. The ball cannoned off of the striker's head, looping over the goalkeeper, but Jones did well to track back and push the ball over the bar to spare his team-mate'ss blushes.

Then, when the suspense appeared to be over, a long-ball into Agger was the catalyst for last-minute drama at Ewood Park. At full stretch the Dane successfully headed the ball square into Carroll, who easily lost his man to nod home past Robinson and secure maximum points for the Reds. This means a fourth consecutive Premier League defeat for Blackburn- who had looked like performing a revival in order to keep themselves up with back-to-back wins and clean sheets.



Tuesday 10th April 2012

Barclays Premier League

Ewood Park


Blackburn Rovers 2-3 Liverpool                                                  KO 8pm              (HT 1-2)

Yakubu 26 missed pen, 36, 61 (pen)         Maxi 13, 16
                                                         Carroll 90+2


Blackburn:  1 Robinson (C)- 7/10, 18 Orr- 6.5/10, 16 Dann- 6.5/10, 31 Hanley- 6.5/10, 3 Martin Olsson- 6.5/10, 23 Hoilett- 7/10, 15 N'Zonzi- 6.5/10, 8 Dunn- 6/10 (Lowe 75- 2.5/10), 21 Marcus Olsson- 6.5/10, 10 Formica- 6.5/10 (Rochina 73- 2.5/10), 24 Yakubu- 7.5/10.

Subs not used:  34 Kean, 5 Givet, 14 Petrovic, 12 Pedersen, 25 Goodwillie

Booked:      Orr (28), Hoilett (62), Formica (64), Hanley (89)


Liverpool:  32 Doni- 2.5/10, 38 Flanagan- 2/10 (Jones 26- 4.5/10), 16 Coates- 7/10, 37 Skrtel- 7/10, 2 Johnson- 6.5/10 (Agger 53- 6/10), 14 Henderson- 7/10, 20 Spearing- 7/10, 33 Shelvey- 7.5/10, 11 Maxi- 8/10 (Enrique 77- 2/10), 9 Carroll- 9/10, 39 Bellamy- 7.5/10.

Subs not used:  23 Carragher, 6 Aurelio, 7 Suarez, 18 Kuyt

Booked:      Flanagan (12), Maxi (45+1), Jones (60), Bellamy (71), Henderson (86)

Sent-off:    Doni (24)


My Man of the Match:      Andy Carroll (Liverpool)- Rating 9/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:      Jon Flanagan (Liverpool)- Rating 2/10



Referee: Anthony Taylor (Manchester)- 8/10
Attendance: 23,571 



Match Facts

Possession: Blackburn- 52%                    Liverpool- 48%

Shots: Blackburn- 10                          Liverpool- 16

Shots on target: Blackburn- 4                       Liverpool- 12

Shots off target: Blackburn- 6                      Liverpool- 4

Corners: Blackburn- 4                      Liverpool- 4

Fouls: Blackburn- 16                       Liverpool- 12

Offside: Blackburn- 1                        Liverpool- 3

Assists: Blackburn- Dunn                         Liverpool- Bellamy, Carroll, Agger



Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean

"Tonight was a massive opportunity missed for us- we knew that Liverpool haven't been that great recently and we have put some really good performances and got one or two really good results so it was the ideal chance for us to put some points on the board. We felt that the way we got back into the game, considering we missed a penalty and conceded two sloppy game, to get back to 2-2, we felt if anybody was going to score again it was us because we were creating some really good opportunities with Yakubu and Hoilett looking good and bright. We've always given everything we've got in the locker and we've given a good physical performance [against Liverpool]. I did feel we showed spirit and determination to get back into the game which is one of the several positives that we can take from the match- Liverpool were given a tough game- it was never an easy match for them and it took a late winner. We're creating chances but we have got to defend set-pieces better. We always look like scoring when we're in the opposition area but we've got to be a little more aggressive in our own box and show that we have the aerial prowess from corners and free-kicks. Where Grant (Hanley) should be when the ball comes back into the box is where Andy Carroll was. That's tough for us all to take because it's cost us a point and two places up the league."



Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish

"We don’t have much control over anything that happens in a match. For us, we can’t speak highly enough for the effort and the commitment the players showed. We get a fantastic start, then we go down to 10 men and, with help from the supporters, drove them forward in the second half. I think at the end of the day we deserved to win, we're delighted for the players, it’s not been a better time for them recently. That doesn’t mean we’ve turned any corners, but it’ll give everyone a lift. We’ve not had the best of results recently so that was that bit more enjoyable when you win a game with ten men and towards the end. It’s fresh in the mind and they deserve a bit of enjoyment. We’re delighted with the result, delighted with the three points. For us to pay tribute to the players is it’s the only way we can handle a post-match press conference. At the end of the day we’re not going to start talking about contentious decisions or otherwise that happened on the pitch because I’ve not seen it. I’m not trying to be evasive, I’m just trying to be factually correct. Only if you’ve never had any confidence to start with. I think Andy is very confident. I think he got what he deserved, he worked hard tonight and scored a fantastic header. I don’t think confidence is a problem. I think he had a wee bit of an advantage because the two of them have been at Middlesbrough. So maybe he [Jones] had a bit of a psychological advantage. That was a great save from a first contribution from the Premier League to save a penalty, I’m sure he’ll remember that. At least we’ve got one goalkeeper anyway for the weekend and I have every confidence that Brad will be able to handle the pressure of handling a semi-final."


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