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Match Report


Posted Mon 28 Dec 09 at 17:14 PM

Report: Rovers 2 Sunderland 2

Two former Sunderland old boys combined to rescue a point for Rovers after Darren Bent had twice given the visitors the lead.

After an instantly forgettable first half in which neither goalkeeper was tested, the game sprang into life with two goals in sixty seconds early after the restart.

Darren Bent fired home after a goalmouth scramble on 52 minutes, but Morten Gamst Pedersen lashed home his first league goal of the season moments later.

Rovers looked on top but the quick release of Bent by Jordan Henderson soon saw the home side behind as the England striker made it 13 of the season.

But a triple change by manager Sam Allardyce paid dividends and it was the Black Cats old boys who created and scored the equaliser. Pascal Chimbonda racing down the right to deliver for El-Hadji Diouf to head home.

That set up a barnstorming last ten minutes with Nikola Kalinić heading narrowly wide from a Pedersen centre before the Croatian was then denied by a stunning Fulop save on the line. But Chris Samba missed from four yards out when the lose ball fell to him, summing up Rovers' woes in front of goal of late.

At the death it could have been Darren Bent celebrating a winner, but a superb last ditch tackle from Gaël Givet meant that both sets of fans went home frustrated at recording a draw.

Watch the match highlights on Rovers Player

Ahead of the game Sam Allardyce made just the two changes from the side that drew at Wigan on Boxing Day.

Morten Gamst Pedersen returned to the left wing position with Michel Salgado making way, whilst up front Jason Roberts got the nod ahead of Franco Di Santo.

Midfielder Keith Andrews fashioned the first chance of note on a chilly Ewood afternoon. A long ball into the Sunderland box was headed clear by Nyron Nosworthy but only as far as the Irishman who swept the ball back goalwards with a venomous volley, but as Martin Fulop scrambled across his line he was relieved to see the ball flash a yard wide of the far post.

It was the only effort of note in a fairly lacklustre first fifteen minutes.

At the Stadium of Light back in August Sunderland struggled with the long throws from Morten Gamst Pedersen and it was from one of those that Rovers went close on 19. The Norwegian's initial ball into the area was cleared but as the ball returned he swept it to the back post where Benni McCarthy rose to head only to see the ball loop onto the roof of the net.

For the visitors, their foray's into the attacking third had been few and far between, Jordan Henderson side-footed well wide early doors, whilst a back header from Nelsen almost saw Bent take advantage. Frazier Campbell's long range sighter failed to trouble Robinson as did debutant Meyler's effort on 22 minutes.

Benni McCarthy saw a free kick deflect wide, before Keith Andrews again went close for Rovers with another shot from outside the area. This time the ball going inches past the corner of post and bar.

But that was as good as it got in a first half of very few chances.

Despite this neither manager chose to tinker with their respective elevens as the second half got underway, Steven Nzonzi seeing a shot from inside the area blocked by Nosworthy.

However from Sunderland's first attack of the second half they took the lead. George McCartney and Daryl Murphy combined well down the left before the ball was sent low into the area, Cana and Campbell both saw shots blocked by the flying Rovers bodies but they could do nothing to stop Darren Bent his 12th of the season.

Less than sixty seconds later and parity was restored. A tenacious tackle from Gaël Givet found Benni McCarthy and he nonchalantly found Pedersen with the flick of a boot. The Norwegian faced up to defender Phil Bardsley, dumped him on his backside with quick feet before cutting inside onto his right and shooting into the back of the net via the foot of the near post.

Suddenly Rovers were at full pelt, McCarthy and Pedersen again combined down the left with the Norwegian sending over a superb cross, but whilst the fast arriving Andrews got his outstretched leg to the ball, he couldn't divert it home.

That miss would prove costly as Sunderland would break upfield to take the lead once more. Jordan Henderson threading the ball through to Darren Bent and the England striker made no mistake with a low drive past Robinson.

The home side continued to press but continued to fail to test Fulop in the Sunderland goal, Nzonzi, Givet and Andrews all had efforts towards goal, but none threatened the Sunderland goal.

At the other however Darren Bent had no such problems, Frazier Campbell teeing up the Sunderland number 11 for another strike at goal, only to be denied by a flying Robinson.

Unimpressed Sam Allardyce made a triple change on 72 minutes. Off went McCarthy, Hoilett and Roberts, Di Santo, Diouf and Kalinić in their place.

The change took just five minutes to have its effect, and it was a goal made and scored by former Sunderland players.

Pascal Chimbonda outpaced Murphy down the right to send over a pin point cross to which the unlikely figure of El-Hadji Diouf rose to head past Fulop into the corner of the net.

That set up a tumultuous last ten minutes in which Rovers did everything but score.

A deep cross from the right by Pedersen saw Nikola Kalinić stretch every sinew to get his head to the ball, he did everything right in heading it back across goal but agonisingly wide.

But with a minute left on the clock you just knew that Rovers weren't going to get the winner their second half display had deserved. Morten Gamst Pedersen again delivered with deadly accuracy, Kalinić rose to head only to see Fulop make a stupendous stop on the line. Ryan Nelsen couldn't force the lose ball over the line in the ensuing scramble but it broke to his defensive partner Chris Samba but somehow from five yards out he put the ball the wrong side of the post.

But right at the death it was almost the match ball for Darren Bent when a cross from the left looked to be heading straight to the striker only for Gaël Givet to pull off the tackle of the match.

Blackburn Rovers started the decade with a draw at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers, they ended it with this 2-2 thriller. They just can't shake that draw specialists tag.

ROVERS: Robinson, Chimbonda, Samba, Nelsen (c), Givet, Hoilett (sub Diouf 73 mins), Andrews, Nzonzi, Pedersen, McCarthy (sub Di Santo 72 mins), Roberts (sub Kalinić 72 mins).

Subs not used: Brown (GK), Jacobsen, Olsson, Salgado.

SUNDERLAND: Fulop, Bardsley, McCartney, Nosworthy, Campbell, Bent, Murphy, Henderson, Meyler, Cana (c), Da Silva.

Subs not used: Carson (GK), Zenden, Healy, Reed, Anderson, Noble, Liddle.

Booked: McCarthy (Rovers), Nosworthy, Meyler, Bardsley, McCartney (Sunderland)

Attendance: 25,656

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