Blackburn Rovers - Leverkusen 3.v.2 Rovers
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Bayer Leverkusen 3 - Blackburn Rovers 2

The Bay Arena

14th February 2007. 17:15

Attendance: 22,500

Leverkusen 3.v.2 Rovers

On a wet afternoon on the Rhine, Rovers emerged from the first leg still very much in the tie courtesy of away goals from David Bentley and Shabani Nonda.

Rovers kicked off and immediately exposed one of Leverkusen`s weaknesses. David Bentley found time and space on the right to whip a vicious ball across the six yard box, perfectly placed for the charging Jason Roberts. However, with the goal at his mercy the UEFA Cup debutant allowed the ball to zip off the surface and between his legs to relative safety.

That served as a warning to Leverkusen of things to come and although they settled after that it was Rovers on the attack again. On 13 minutes Bentley was once again given too much space and time to pinpoint his cross. This time the target was the head of McCarthy at the near post, however, his thumping header flew harmlessly off target.

Rovers continued to press and McCarthy forced a fine save from Hans Jorg-Butt.

Leverkusen had offered little more than a deflected free-kick but in keeping with these sorts of games, Rovers were punished when Leverkusen were headed in front by Jan Ingwer Callsen Bracker. The centre back evaded McCarthy to arrive at the back post to deftly nod home Schneider`s free-kick.

Andrie Voronin had an excellent chance to double the lead when well placed following a sweeping move but he lashed his effort recklessly wide.

Rovers then hit back and deservedly equalised following a rasping free-kick from distance by the exceptional Bentley. The ball took a small deflection on the way in but it was hit with such ferocity the 'keeper would have struggled to reach it.

Rovers were pegged back again when Carston Ramelow drilled a speculative effort towards goal that took a horrible deflection off Ryan Nelsen, ultimately sending the ball into the opposite corner.

Leverkusen ushered the half out using great ball retention. The fluid movement of the front four had made it very difficult for Rovers to keep up.

In similar fashion to the first half, Rovers should have scored in the opening 90 seconds, this time David Dunn being the guilty party. Smart work from Roberts presented Dunn with a free header six yards out at the back post but his diving attempt squirmed narrowly wide of the post.

Then came the sucker-punch blow in the 55th minute. Gonzalo Castro robbed a hesitant Stephen Warnock and drilled a ball across the area. The experienced touch of Bernd Schneider deftly diverted the ball into the back of the net off the post. The ball had rolled along the line, agonizingly for the defence, before tricking in.

Rovers looked deflated and short of ideas all of a sudden as the boggy pitch and lashings of rain made life very difficult for a side obviously lacking in fitness. David Dunn epitomised how the players looked when he huffed and puffed his way off the pitch in the 65th minute to be replaced by the young German, Sergio Peter.

Leverkusen continued to dominate and stretch Rovers through the flexibility of their four attackers. Holes kept appearing in Rovers` defence allowing a number of efforts on Brad Friedel`s goal.

As the minutes whittled away as did Rovers` chances in this competition. However, there is a new hero at Ewood tonight, well in Germany, and that is Shabani Nonda.

He replaced a weary and sluggish Roberts in the 69th minute and beautifully hauled Rovers back into this tie with a sweet volley in the 86th minute.

David Bentley`s drilled ball into the box wasn`t dealt with and the ball fell to Nonda who connected crisply with the ball to send it crashing into the back of the net via the underneath of the crossbar.

It was a goal Rovers deserved and will give them renewed vigour for the second.

Star Player

David Bentley.

Once again he put in a mature and professional display using his full repertoire.

Player Ratings

Friedel 6

Left totally exposed on all of the goals and made a couple of other smart stops.

Emerton 6

Plenty of effort again but with little distribution. Some sound defending.

Warnock 5

Looked decidedly average tonight. Not one of his better games.

Henchoz 5

Too slow and far too casual at times.

Nelsen 6

Hugely unlucky with the deflection but failed to command his troops.

Benltey 8

Quiet second period but still provides a huge threat to opposition defences. His first half display was brilliant.

Dunn 6

Huffed and puffed, literally, does look short on fitness but his positioning and movement was good at times.

Tugay 5

Could not influence the game at all and was over-shadowed by another veteran schemer, Schneider.

Mokoena 5

Just doesn't compensate for Sav. Horrendous passing too.

McCarthy 6

Put himself about but couldn't influence the game much.

Roberts 6

Should really have scored in the opening minute and looked off the pace.

Peter 6

Another very lively display.

Nonda 7

A cracking finish for the goal.

Todd 4

Only played two minutes.

The Journalist

Writer: Roversman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday February 14 2007

Time: 11:28PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Not one of our better days, too many people were below par with chances missed. Had a bad feeling as soon as JR missed the sitter early on, although to be fair he is feeling his way back from injury and showed some signs of what is to come. Bents was awesome today, proving again just how bad an oversight is was to over look him for England last week. I firmly believe we'll win at Ewood next week, 3-2 makes it hell of a lot easier than 3-1 so the late Nonda goal will probably prove priceless. Personally I think Sparky should have started Sergio on the left today as maybe he should have at the weekend.
Hughes Da Man
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14/02/2007 23:33:00

Yeah i thought Sergio should have started, twud have given us a better balance. Still the mins would have done Dun well. I had that exact same feeling of inevitablity as you HDM when Roberts missed that easy chance. We missed so many good chances but the lads looked very tired.
Report Abuse
15/02/2007 09:35:00

Peter should have evened things up towards the end of the match - Nonda had a decent break down the right midfield, with (i think) Bentley on the touchline. They were covered by about four or five defenders, but Peter was flying towards the (our) left corner of the penalty area absolutely screaming for the ball - If they'd have spotted him he would have undoubtably buried it. Unfortunately all he got was frustrated. Oh well, we showed enough to convince me that we are in with a very good chance of turning them over in the return leg.
Head Rover Heels
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15/02/2007 11:18:00

I was screaming to play the ball as it wasn't a difficult one really was it, he'd have been in an as you say I'm sure he'd have slotted home. MGP won't be back at the weekend (will he?) in which case I say give Sergio a start, he deserves it if nothing else. Dunny isn't fit enough to be starting games, yet.
Hughes Da Man
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15/02/2007 12:05:00

I too was screaming at the TV. How could they not see that!!!! Oh well, I am confident that we will overturn them at Ewood. Peter should defo start on Sat!
Report Abuse
15/02/2007 16:40:00

Sergio looked lively when he came on didn't he, should have started for me as he should have the previous match, HAS to start Saturday although I don't think he will?
Hughes Da Man
Report Abuse
15/02/2007 23:20:00

You have the away goals but Rovers will need to come out of the blocks and attack from the word go, its no good getting to 90 minutes still 0-0.
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16/02/2007 03:57:00


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