Dramatic win at Ewood

Liverpool became only the second team to pick up a Premiership win at Ewood Park this season after a dramatic and, at times, controversial clash.


The visitors were hanging on at the end as Rovers launched wave after wave of attacks in an attempt to preserve their unbeaten home League run which stretched back almost six months.

But Liverpool had enough in reserve thanks to two first half goals by Stan Collymore and a later Michael Thomas effort.


Blackburn had caved in when they fell behind to Liverpool in the previous fixture in September, but this time Roy Evans' men found the champions in more determined mood.


There was barely a moment's respite from the time Liverpool took a freak 11th-inute lead when Stan Collymore's speculative long range effort looped over embarrassed keeper Tim Flowers.

Collymore was again the Blackburn tormentor when he struck with a brilliant free-kick on 21 minutes.


But Rovers responded in the best way through Jason Wilcox. The England B winger has had a torrid time with injuries over the last 12 months and this was his first home appearance since March. He celebrated it by heading in Stuart Ripley's cross on 24 minutes.


The turning point of the game came 20 minutes from time when Robbie Fowler split the Rovers' defence and Michael Thomas fired home via a deflection. Thomas was later the villain as far as the home fans were concerned who felt he should have been dismissed for deliberate hand ball after being booked in the first half. There was more controversy in a grandstand finish with furious appeals for a penalty after John Barnes appeared to handle.


But Liverpool just about deserved the three points and the win keeps them in with an outside chance of a record 19th League title.


The Reds achieved a notable record in stopping Alan Shearer from scoring in a home League match. It was the first time the England man had drawn a blank in front of his own supporters in the Premiership this season. Blackburn boss Ray Harford is facing another injury headache after Stuart Ripley was taken off with a hamstring injury during the champions' 3-2 defeat at home to Liverpool. Ripley, who joins Graham Le Saux and Chris Sutton on the casualty list, will definitely miss Rovers' midweek trip to Aston Villa.


And to make matters worse Mike Newell is still to complete a two-game suspension.

Harford was left to reflect on his team's first home League defeat since late August on an incident packed day -- notable for being the first home game this season in which Alan Shearer has failed to score. "I didn't think the front players got the right service," said Harford.

Surprisingly his opposite number Roy Evans was reserved in his praise for his championship challenging side.


"We lacked a bit of professionalism," said Evans. "We were a bit careless at times and when they scored their second we had a difficult last six or seven minutes. Obviously from our point of view it is a great three points. It keeps us in touch and looking at Blackburn's record it is an even better result."


In a match full of talking points, the main incident of note was Stan Collymore's bizarre opener.

A tame shot looked odds-on to be comfortably gathered by Tim Flowers until the ball looped over the happless keeper.


A sympathetic Evans said: "The first goal was a freak. Stan turned away and didn't even look after the shot -- it was that bad. It was a goalkeeper's nightmare, the ball hit a divot and looped over his head. We are thankful for small mercies and we will take the good with the bad. Stan is a big, powerful lad and his shooting ability is tremendous."


Evans maintains that the championship race is still in Newcastle's control despite the leaders' poor record of one point from their last six.


"At this stage Newcastle are firmly in the driving seat," said Evans. "We are a little bit closer and maybe their nerves are going a bit. Manchester United and ourselves are keeping up the pressure and that's all we can do."


from "Press Association"

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