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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 17 Sep 11 at 15:12 PM

Report: Rovers 4 Arsenal 3

Yakubu struck a sensational debut brace as Rovers defeated Arsenal in a pulsating Ewood encounter.

The Nigerian struck twice as Rovers came from behind to inflict misery on Arsenal with a 4-3 win.

Gervinho gave the Gunners the lead on ten minutes but Yakubu's sublime finish evened the scores quickly, but Rovers trailed at the break after Mikel Arteta made it two goals from two visits to Ewood Park this season.

The second half saw Rovers come out with renewed enthusiasm, Alex Song putting the ball into his own net after Ruben Rochina's free-kick.

Then Yakubu fired home from a yard out, connecting with Steven Nzonzi's drilled pass.

Rovers then made it 4-2 with a move of quality, Hoilett and Yakubu combining to find Martin Olsson and his centre deflected off Koscielny and into the back of the net.

But things are never straightforward where Rovers are concerned and when Chamakh reduced arrears with five minutes to go it set up a nervy final few minutes, but despite many scares, Rovers held strong to claim their first win of the season.


Manager Steve Kean made two changes from the side that drew with Fulham six days earlier. With David Dunn and David Goodwillie missing through injury, it saw first league starts for Jason Lowe and Yakubu. The latter making his debut in a Rovers shirt.

For the visitors, they welcomed back Alex Song and Gervinho after suspension, and those two would combine for the opening goal on ten minutes.

Cameroon international Song cut in from the right of centre, space opening up for the midfielder as he threaded a ball through the Rovers defence for Gervinho running into the area, the Arsenal striker hitting a first time ball into the far corner of the goal.

For Arsenal to score with pretty much their first opening came as a source of disappointment as up to that point Rovers had been in the ascendancy. Junior Hoilett teasing the Arsenal defence with a run and cross, whilst Ruben Rochina's fine touch and turn gave him a shooting opportunity but he dragged his effort wide.

Rovers were then forced into an early change as Michel Salgado limped off, his replacement Radosav Petrovic came on into midfield, Jason Lowe moving to right back.

The home side should have drawn level on 19 minutes when a Ruben Rochina free-kick was sent into the box, but Chris Samba, rising high at the back post, headed wide with the goal at his mercy.

Gervinho then went hunting for his and Arsenal's second, Paul Robinson saving his near-post effort.

Rovers came back, grabbing a superb equaliser on 25 minutes, a goal that was as emphatic as Arsenal's earlier.

Mauro Formica attempted to thread the ball through to Yakubu, but his pass was intercepted, Junior Hoilett took command and threaded the ball perfectly for the Nigerian striker, and with Arsenal's offside line at sixes and sevens he deftly flicked past Szczesny into the corner of the net for his first Rovers goal.

Suddenly Rovers had their tails up, Chris Samba saw an overhead kick deflect wide, from the resulting corner Steven Nzonzi climbed well but headed wide.

But Arsenal came back and regained the lead on 34 minutes. Again the home side affording the Gunners far too much space which Aaron Ramsey exploited to the full. The Welshman running into the area before cutting the ball back for Mikel Arteta to fire home from the edge of the box. His second goal against Rovers this season.

Scott Dann prevented Arsenal from increasing their lead just before half time. After Andrey Arshavin got the better of Jason Lowe down the left, the Russian fed Gervinho, but Dann pulled off a great block, thrusting out a leg to thwart the forward.

Neither side made changes at the break, Rovers starting the second half as they did in the first - on the attack.

This time they took advantage of their situation drawing level on 50 minutes.

Jason Lowe had been fouled on the right of the area, Ruben Rochina clipping the resulting free-kick into the area, and as Gael Givet went up to win the ball, it dropped down deflected off Alex Song and crept into the corner of the net.

Rochina then threaded the ball through for Mauro Formica, but Szczesny made a superb save to deny the Argentine.

Rovers continued to press, Yakubu this time the provider for Rochina, but he took one touch too many in the area and the chance was gone.

That would prove to be the Spaniard's last involvement, replaced by Martin Olsson.

Just before the hour mark the turnaround was complete. Junior Hoilett sending over a corner to the back post, Steven Nzonzi claimed the loose ball before drilling it hard and low into the area where Yakubu blasted home from close range.

The visitors claimed offside but rookie defender Andre Santos was just about level with the Rovers striker. "Feed the Yak and he will score" chanted the home fans.

Ten minutes later and Ewood Park was bouncing as a fourth Rovers goal was scored. It came as Arsenal pressed from a corner, Junior Hoilett breaking away to find Yakubu on the right, he in turn fed Martin Olsson who skipped past the challenge of Djourou to race into the area, his cross went over Szczesny struck Laurent Koscielny and rolled into the back of the net.

But Arsenal weren't finished, Paul Robinson having to tip over his own bar, then brilliantly denying Robin van Persie from a Nasri corner.

With five minutes to go van Persie then turned provider, crossing from the left with supreme accuracy where substitute Marouane Chamakh headed home to make it 4-3.

Four additional minutes were shown by referee Andre Marriner and for those of a blue and white persuasion it was quite possibly the most nerve-jangling four minutes for a very long time as Arsenal laid siege to the Rovers goal.

Per Mertersacker should have made it four apiece but headed over van Persie's centre. Then Paul Robinson pulled off a stunning point-blank save to thwart van Persie once again.

The chances continued, Marouane Chamakh could have made it two headers in a short space of time but nodded wide. Then in the final seconds Theo Walcott lifted the ball over the advancing Robinson but Jason Lowe was there to clear.

Eventually the referee blew to signal the end of the match and Rovers' three points of the season.

ROVERS: Robinson, Salgado (sub Petrovic 18 mins), Samba (c), Dann, Givet, Rochina (sub Olsson 56 mins), Lowe, Nzonzi, Hoilett, Formica (sub Vukcevic 65 mins), Yakubu.

Subs not used: Bunn (GK), Grella, Roberts, Hanley.

ARSENAL: Szczesny, Sagna (sub Djourou 53 mins), Mertersacker, Koscielny, Arteta, van Persie (c), Santos, Ramsey, Song (sub Chamakh 76 mins), Arshavin (sub Walcott 65 mins), Gervinho.

Subs not used: Fabianski (GK), Gibbs, Benayoun, Coquelin.

Booked: Dann, Olsson (Rovers), Djourou (Arsenal).

Attendance: 22,673

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