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Match Report

 

Posted Wed 05 Jan 11 at 22:34 PM

Report: Rovers 3 Liverpool 1

Rovers fired there way back into the top half of the table with a commanding 3-1 win over Liverpool at Ewood.

Energy and enthusiasm was the order of the day and the home side had it in bundles as they raced into a two-goal half-time lead courtesy of strikes from Martin Olsson and Benjani.

Zimbabwean international Benjani then increased Rovers' lead further when he tapped home after fine work from man of the match Junior Hoilett just before the hour mark.

Liverpool rallied late with Steven Gerrard firing home a consolation, and had the visiting captain not fired over from the penalty spot it could have lead to a nervy ending, but there was to be no denying Rovers as they registered an impressive victory.

Ahead of the game Steve Kean made three changes from the side that faced Sunderland on New Years Day.

The Rovers boss was able to welcome back captain Chris Samba after injury, whilst Michel Salgado returned after suspension. Benjani given a rare start up front.

Making way were Brett Emerton, who has departed for the Asia Cup with Australia, whilst El-Hadji Diouf and Grant Hanley both dropped to the substitutes bench.

Liverpool made four changes from the side that defeated Bolton last time out, Konchesky, Gerrard, Cole and Kyrgiakos all coming in.

Both sides started brightly, looking to force the pace down the flanks, Rovers through wide men Junior Hoilett and Martin Olsson, Liverpool more with their full backs on the overlap as shown when a Paul Konchesky cross from the left saw Liverpool frontman Fernando Torres head wide early on.

Morten Gamst Pedersen's threat from free-kick situations is well known, but his 11th minute strike flashed across goal and out of reach from Mame Biram Diouf arriving at the back post.

Then as a Pedersen throw was cleared, David Dunn tried his luck with a first time volley, but it dipped too late to trouble Pepe Reina.

But all those were mere half chances as Mame Diouf missed a glorious opportunity to put the home side in front on 17 minutes.

Short incisive passing saw Rovers get the ball wide to Martin Olsson, the Swedish international sent a curling ball into the area for Diouf but he couldn't get enough on the ball to divert it past Reina, the Liverpool 'keeper gratefully accepting the gift of a pass back.

Liverpool threatened when following a Glen Johnson run he found Joe Cole in the area, his cross deflecting just wide. From the resulting corner Rovers broke quickly, Diouf finding Benjani, as his shot deflected high, it dropped for his strike partner Diouf but he volleyed over the bar.

Chris Samba impressed on his return to action, showing alertness to leap to block a Cole shot for a corner kick.

And it was from Liverpool's corner that Rovers would eventually take the lead on 32. As the visitor's attack broke down, Ryan Nelsen found Mame Biram Diouf with a first-time ball out to the left, he slipped in the fleet-footed Martin Olsson and he drilled the ball hard and low under the advancing Pepe Reina to open the scoring.

A minute later it was almost two when following the marauding run of Chris Samba, he set Junior Hoilett advancing down the flank, but his dangerous low centre was claimed by Reina.

Rovers wouldn't have too long to wait before the net was bulging once again as they doubled their lead on 38.

It was a goal of the highest quality, Benjani collecting a pass from Pedersen with his back to goal before shrugging off the attentions of Sotirios Kyrgiakos to turn and smash the ball high into the roof of the net.

On his home Premier League debut Mark Bunn had had a quiet half, saving a header from Fernando Torres that was straight at him his only involvement.

The Rovers 'keeper was busier in the opening exchanges of the second half, out quickly twice to claim low, then he denied Steven Gerrard at the near post before showing good hands to hold a low drive from Joe Cole as Liverpool started the second period with intent.

But that bright opening from the visitors was quickly forgotten when Rovers added a third just before the hour mark.

Again it was good wing play by Rovers' young stars as Martin Olsson fed Junior Hoilett down the left. The young Canadian took on two defenders and cut in from the byline before laying the ball on a plate for Benjani to tap home from close range.

Ewood Park was rocking and it was Liverpool who were getting rolled over.

Hoilett was a real livewire, firing wide after 40 yard run, then he squirmed a shot narrowly past the post after Mame Biram Diouf's centre.

As the game entered the final quarter Liverpool finally started to get some joy in the game.

Mark Bunn had earlier pushed away a Joe Cole effort but was powerless on 81 minutes when after Fernando Torres had seen his shot blocked Steven Gerrard volleyed straight into the back of the net.

Four minutes later and the Liverpool captain won a penalty after Michel Salgado clipped his heels in the area. Ewood Park held its breath as Gerrard stepped up from 12 yards, releasing a huge cheer as the England man fired over the bar.

Had that gone in then it could have set up a nervy final few minutes, but as it was Rovers were able to see out the game with ease, retaining possession until referee Andre Marriner blew the final whistle.

ROVERS: Bunn, Salgado, Samba (c), Nelsen, Givet, Hoilett, Dunn (sub Morris 75 mins), Pedersen, Olsson (sub EH Diouf 74 mins), Benjani (sub Goulon 84 mins), MB Diouf.

Subs not used: Fielding (GK), Linganzi, Doran, Hanley.

LIVERPOOL: Reina, Johnson, Konchesky, Gerrard (c), Torres, Cole, Kyrgiakos (sub Agger 51 mins), Maxi Rodriguez (sub Kuyt 58 mins), Lucas, Ngog (sub Babel 78 mins), Skrtel.

Subs not used: Gulasci (GK), Jovanovic, Poulsen, Kelly.

Booked: Salgado (Rovers), Lucas (Liverpool)

Attendance: 24,522

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