Scoreless at Fortress Ewood
It was Liverpool`s turn to visit the newly crowned Fortress of the English Premier League. With only 1 loss at home, it would always be tough to crack the Rovers Defence, back to full strength with Chimbonda, Nelsen, Samba and Givet protecting Robinson`s goal. Benni McCarthy was given a timely recall to the Rovers frontline, partnering Franco Di Santo upfront. Grella and Nzonzi held the midfield whilst Emerton and Diouf raided the flanks….
In what can only be described as a dire first half, neither side managed a clear cut opportunity. Blackburn dominated the early 15 minutes with a short passing game which has not been seen at Ewood for many a year. Grella was linking up with Emerton on the right flank, whilst Benni McCarthy was up to all his tricks in an attempt to break the strong Liverpool back line.
Liverpool, without questionably the best striker in the world, Fernando Torres, relied on Steven Gerrard playing the box to box roll, with Dirt Kuyt holding the front line. Dirt, was stopped in his tracks on several occasions, with Ryan Nelsen and Samba dominating anything coming their way. Liverpools best chance in the opening half occurred once Gerrard was set free down the right side of the penalty box. Only a last ditch tackle from Ryan Nelsen prevented the English midfielder from striking at goal.
Diouf and McCarthy wasted set piece opportunities for Rovers, as the first half really fizzed away…0-0 Half Time
The second 45, completely the opposite. Blackburn could of got of to the brightest of starts. A delightful throughball found the path of Franco Di Santo. However, the young man once again showed his lack of composure in front of goal, looking at the assistant to see if he was onside. In that fraction of a second, the Liverpool custodian was given enough time to dash out, forcing Di Santo into an error, without even a shot on goal…..
The Reds were growing increasingly frustrated at their inability to break down the Rovers defence, with Steven Gerrard taking two shots from distance, drifting wide of the goal. Brett Emerton tried his luck on the opposite end, with his shot also glancing wide. Di Santo made way for Hoillet…
The game started to open up much more, with both teams starting to take a direct approach. The best chance for Liverpool fell to David Ngog. A blistering run down the right flank saw the ball cut across goal to Ngog. With an open net, the ball took a wicked bounce, striking Ngog`s shin and crashing into the crossbar, the loose ball was volleyed, however a desperate header from Samba preventing the shot hitting the back of the net.
Rovers then countered, the ball drifting out wide to Diouf, who cut in to McCarthy. Benni tried to set up Hoillet, however the ball rebounded straight back into his path. His strike at goal drifted wide, the story of the day…..That proved to be Benni`s final contribution, as Kalinic came on for the South African. Andrews came on for Di Santo with 6 minutes to go….
Blackburn had the chance to seal the game in injury time. Junior Hoillet picked up the ball in midfield, darted 30 yards then split the defence, leaving Kalinic 1 on 1 with Reira. The goal keeper put Kalinic of, with the young striker only able to poke the ball wide of the goal…..0-0
With only a few hours sleep for the Kiwi, as he was keenly awaiting the World Cup Draw, Ryan put in one of the best performances of the season. Shut down Gerrard throughout the game, and made Kuyt look second rate. Well done Ryan
Paul Robinson 6.5
Ryan Nelsen 9
Chris Samba 7.5
Pascal Chimbonda 7
Gael Givet 5.5
Steven Nzonzi 6
VInce Grella 7
El Hadji Diouf 6.5
Brett Emerton 8
Benni McCarthy 7.5
Franco Di Santo 6
Junior Hoillet 7
Jason Roberts Acadamy of Shooting......