ANFIELD ONLINE MATCH REPORT
BLACKBURN 0-1 LIVERPOOL
FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
Sunday 16th April @ 14:30 at Ewood Park
Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler provided manager Rafael Benitez with further evidence that he is deserves a new contract with his latest match-winning goal.
Fowler, whose short-term deal following his January transfer-window arrival from Manchester City expires in the summer, made it four in five matches as the Reds stretched their winning run to seven games.
It was also his third in successive outings - the first time he has achieved such a feat for the Anfield club since November 1997.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was forced to miss his side's clash at with a tight hamstring.
Jamie Carragher took over the skipper's armband, and with Peter Crouch rested and Harry Kewell on the bench, manager Rafael Benitez made three changes to his side.
In came Mohammed Sissoko - left out of the 1-0 win over Bolton last weekend to avoid a booking and potential suspension - Fernando Morientes and Stephen Warnock.
Blackburn were unchanged following last Saturday's 2-2 draw at Portsmouth.
Fittingly, a perfect minute's silence was observed immediately before the game to mark the 17th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy.
Morten Gamst Pedersen's outswinger, though, was comfortably punched clear by goalkeeper Jose Reina, who was chasing Ray Clemence's club record of number of goals conceded in his first 50 matches.
Reina came into the match having let in 29 goals in 49 games, with Clemence conceding 32 in 50 back in 1970-71.
A minute later Blackburn midfielder Robbie Savage became the first name taken by referee Alan Wiley for bringing down Djibril Cisse - his 10th yellow of the season, but with the booking amnesty now in force, so avoiding a ban.
It was a raking Savage pass from inside his own half that almost set Craig Bellamy free in behind the Reds defence in the 20th minute, only for Carragher to produce a timely interception.
Appeals for a penalty soon followed when Morientes ran into Rovers captain Ryan Nelsen, but Wiley was unimpressed.
Bookings outnumbered chances come the 26th minute when Sissoko was cautioned for the 10th time in the season, this time for a late challenge on Steven Reid.
John Arne Riise's long throw was chested on by Fowler, and although left alone by Cisse as an overlapping Morientes collected the pass, the Frenchman was at least four yards offside and interfering with play.
The linesman's decision not to raise his flag allowed Morientes to tee up Fowler for a simple sidefoot finish from 10 yards.
That sparked furious Blackburn protests as a number of players raced across to the referee's assistant, and seemingly with good cause, albeit to no avail.
Wiley, who had been forced to interfere, made his third booking of the game after the restart for a wild lunge from David Bentley on Riise.
It could have been 2-0 on the stroke of half-time as Fowler's ball over the top of the defence was picked up by Cisse who had timed his run to perfection.
With only Brad Friedel to beat, Cisse drilled in a goal-bound shot the American brilliantly saved, the ball eventually landing on top of the crossbar.
Further fury followed soon after for a Lucas Neill foul on Cisse, one that Rovers manager Mark Hughes thought was fair as he pleaded with Cisse to "get up".
That sparked a touchline war of words between Hughes and first-team coach Alex Miller, with fourth official Howard Webb forced to cool fraying tempers, while Neill was booked.After Savage and Xabi Alonso required treatment for a collision just over two minutes after the restart, Rovers finally started to create something of note.
Then moments later a glancing header at the near post from Nelsen to a inswinging Pedersen corner flashed across the face of Reina's goal.
Xabi Alonso became the game's fifth recipient of a yellow card, this time for a mis-timed tackle on Reid.
With Blackburn pressing fervently for the equaliser, Reina was then forced to tip
a deep cross from Dickov over the bar.
A 25-yard half-volley from Bentley was more routinely gathered soon after before Bellamy went down on the edge of the area clutching his right hamstring following a challenge from Carragher.
A minute's treatment followed and the in-form Welshman soon returned to the fray prior to Benitez and Hughes making changes.
Luis Garcia came on for Fowler in the 64th minute, followed by Dickov departing for Kuqi three minutes later, while a Reid tackle on Warnock led to the left-back being replaced by Harry Kewell.After Friedel cleared a poor back pass from Savage ahead of the arriving Sissoko, Morientes came within inches of a game-clinching second goal, only to steer a pin-point cross from Kewell narrowly wide.
Again the Blackburn goalkeeper superbly saved the initial effort, but this time the ball ran loose for Cisse, only to follow up on the rebound by prodding his second attempt against the post.
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|Match Report filed: 16 April 2006|