Another 3 Points at Fortress Ewood
Saturday August 14
Blackburn Rovers continued their stunning home form from the last English Premier League season, with a howler from American Goal Keeper, Tim Howard, providing Nikola Kalinic a golden opportunity, striking from the 18 yard box into an open goal, with the early goal proving decisive as Rovers ran out 1-0 Victors.
In what was possibly a sign of things to come, Sam Allardyce deployed Phil Jones in the holding role in central midfield, with the tried and tested combination of Gael Givet, Ryan Nelsen, Chris Samba and Michel Salgado enforcing the defence. Morten Gamst Pedersen, El Hadji Diouf, David Dunn and Martin Olsson rounded out the midfield, whilst Nikola Kalinic was the lone man up front.
Things got off to a mixed start for the home outfit. Morten Gamst Pedersen played a neat lobbed ball over the top, with Martin Olsson springing the offside trap. However, the young Swede could not apply the final touch, lobbing over the rushing Time Howard, and well over the net. Dunn then pulled up only minutes into the clash, appearing to strain a hamstring. Last years player of the season, Steven Nzonzi came on as a early substitute for a devestated Dunny.
In what was a half of few chances, it was an error from the ever so reliable, Tim Howard, which created the golden opportunity for Blackburn. A loose header by El Hadji Diouf floated easily into the arms of Tim Howard. After clenching the ball, Tim then had what we are going to call, an English Number 1 moment, loosing grip of the ball. Unfortunately for Howard, the ball dropped into the path of Kalinic, who, with a neat swivel and volley, placed the ball in the bottom left corner of the net....1-0 Blackburn
Everton then decided to up the ante, with late inclusion Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta pulling the strings in midfield. 2 tame shots by Cahill failed to test Robinson, whilst Salgado was on the ball to prevent Cahill reaching a header on the far post. Louis Saha was next to try his luck, however, the man who has punished Rovers so many times in the past just couldnt find that last touch, again failing to test Robinson.
In what was really a battle of the midfield, neither team could really create that golden opportunity, as Rovers went in at the break, up 1-0.
Mama Diouf made his Rovers debut, replacing Kalinic at the 60th minute mark, and the young Senegalese international showed us exactly what he was all about, pace, pace and more pace. After troubling the Everton defence, Diouf almost sprung the offside trap, striking a shot which was saved by Howard, however the flag did go up.
Arteta tried his luck from distance, as did Saha, however they could not breach Robinson, who was having the simplest of days between the sticks. Steven Nzonzi could have wrapped the game up with 15 to go. A neat run by the effective El Hadji Diouf was followed by a superb stationary cross, with Nzonzi striking his header over the bar, unmarked from 8 yards out.
Late pressure came in the form of a Jagielka 20 yard bullet, however, Robinson was called into action for the first real time in the match, making a superb parried save, ensuring Blackburn continued their fine form at Ewood Park, and starting the season of with a bang.
Ryan looked a new man out there without the captains arm band. You could see the pressure was off, as he surged down the field, displaying a rarely seen attacking side to his game. Would be dissapointed with his open volley which went over, but apart from that, top game
Paul Robinson 8
Chris Samba 8
Ryan Nelsen 9
Gael Givet 7.5
Michel Salgado 8
Phil Jones 7
Morten Gamst Pedersen 8
El Hadji Diouf 7.5
Martin Olsson 6.5
Nikola Kalinic 8.5
Steve Nzonzi 7
M B Diouf