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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 14 Aug 10 at 17:07 PM

Report: Rovers 1 Everton 0

Nikola Kalinic scored the only goal of the game, as Rovers opened the new Barclays Premier League season with a well-earned 1-0 win at home to Everton.

The goal arrived after just 14 minutes following a Tim Howard howler. The American keeper dropped the ball at the feet of the young Croatian, who expertly fired the ball into the empty net.

Whilst the first half was bereft of clear cut chances, the game came to live after the break thanks to two storming runs from Phil Jones.

Mame Biram Diouf came on for his debut and looked lively up front, whilst Paul Robinson underlined why he's still one of the best goalkeepers in the country with a superb double save in added time.

That's now three Premier League victories on the trot for Rovers, who ended last season with back-to-back wins against Arsenal and Aston Villa.

Before kick-off, there was a familiar look to the Rovers starting line-up. The only notable omission was last season's Player of the Year, Steven Nzonzi, who had to settle for a place on the bench.

Jones was again given a vote of confidence by manager Sam Allardyce in a new defensive midfield role, while new number nine Kalinic got the nod ahead of new signing Mame Biram Diouf in attack.

Everton's Tim Cahill recovered from a slight knee strain to take his place in the visitors' strongest starting line-up.

Rovers made a bright start in the Ewood sunshine and almost took the lead with their first attack.

With less than two minutes on the clock, Morten Gamst Pedersen played the ball over the top to Martin Olsson, who timed his run to perfection and got there ahead of the advancing Howard, but lifted his shot over both the keeper and bar.

The home side were dealt a bitter blow on nine minutes when last season's top scorer David Dunn limped off, to be replaced by Nzonzi, however Rovers took the lead just five minutes later.

After a spot of head tennis, El-Hadji Diouf nodded the ball forward, Howard came out to claim, but then inexplicably dropped the ball at the feet of Kalinic, who spun and rolled the ball into the back of the empty net to spark wild celebrations from players and fans alike.

It was just what the young Croatian needed after a slow start to his debut campaign in English football last term.

After being out-played in the opening exchanges, Everton slowly started to get a foothold in the game.

Mikel Arteta saw a free-kick deflect wide and from the resulting corner, Steven Pienaar fired comfortably into the arms of Robinson.

On the stroke of half-time, Rovers had half-hearted penalty appeals waved away after Phil Jagielka appeared to handle the ball in the box.

Five minutes into the second half, a marauding run by Jones got the crowd up on their feet. He played the ball out wide to Kalinic, but the goalscorer was unable to supply the return pass.

As the hour mark approached, both sides rang the changes, with two strikers coming on to make their debuts for their new clubs.

Jermaine Beckford replaced Leon Osman for the visitors, while Mame Biram Diouf came on to a great reception for matchwinner Kalinic.

And Rovers' new loan signing from Manchester United almost made an immediate impact.

He gave chase to a long clearance out of defence by Gael Givet and held the ball up well, before laying it back to Pedersen. The Norwegian played a return pass clean through to Diouf, who fired goalwards, but was flagged offside.

A minute later, Jones made another excellent break down the left. With just one man to beat, he took on Sylvain Distin and got his left-foot shot away, which was deflected just wide of the near post.

The resultant corner eventually dropped to the unmarked Ryan Nelsen at the far post, but the Kiwi defender volleyed over the bar.

The game was really starting to hot up, as Louis Saha blazed high over the bar at the other end, before being replaced by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

Rovers came within a whisker of doubling their lead on 78 minutes, as El-Hadji Diouf delivered a superb cross from the right, but Nzonzi headed inches over the bar.

Mame Biram Diouf then gave chase to another long ball forward, but was unable to engineer space for a shot.

As the game entered the second of three minutes of time added on, Jagielka unleashed a thunderbolt shot from outside the box, which forced a superb reaction save from Robinson, who then got down well to deny Jack Rodwell's overhead-kick.

Rovers hung on and claimed a precious opening day victory, just like they did against Everton two seasons ago.

ROVERS: Robinson, Salgado, Samba (c), Nelsen, Givet, E. Diouf, Jones, Pedersen, Olsson, Dunn (Nzonzi 9), Kalinic (M. B. Diouf 60).
Subs: Bunn, Chimbonda, Andrews, Emerton, Hoilett.

EVERTON: Howard, Neville (c), Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Osman (Beckford 59), Fellaini (Rodwell 78), Arteta, Pienaar, Cahill, Saha (Bilyaletdinov 73).
Subs: Mucha, Hibbert, Heitinga, Gueye.

Booked: Pedersen, Salgado (Rovers), Cahill (Everton).

Attendance: 25,869

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