Rovers crash out to Greeks
Blackburn crashed out of the Uefa Cup 3-2 on aggregate to Larissa, despite winning the second leg 2-1.
By Peter O'Rourke
Last Updated: 04/10/07 11:19pm
Blackburn crashed out of the Uefa Cup 3-2 on aggregate to Larissa, despite winning 2-1 in the second leg at Ewood Park.
Trailing 2-0 from the first leg in Greece, Rovers' task became even harder on 17 minutes when Silva Cleyton silenced the home crowd with the opener for Larissa.
Matt Derbyshire drew Blackburn level right on the stroke of half-time with a retaken penalty kick after David Dunn was felled inside the box.
Stephen Warnock fired Rovers in front on the night on 51 minutes with a well-taken volley to give the home fans hope.
Rovers poured forward in search of the two goals they needed to advance, but they could not find a way through as Larissa held on to reach the group stages.An uphill task became a mountainous challenge after 17 minutes when the home defence failed to deal with a cross from the left which eventually ricocheted off Marco Foerster into the path of Cleyton, who sidestepped the defender to finish clinically from 10 yards.
The towering Chris Samba almost got the score Rovers so desperately needed, but he headed David Bentley's free-kick just over from six yards when he should have hit the target.
Blackburn were looking shaky in defence and Nektarios Alexandrou's volley was deflected just wide as the Greeks sought a killer second.
Derbyshire should have done better moments later when Roque Santa Cruz knocked back for him to shoot from 15 yards after good work from Bentley on the right, but again the shot was pulled lamely wide.
A hopeful prodded through ball then played Dunn into the clear but his touch was poor and Larissa goalkeeper Stefanos Kotsolis was able to get down and save at his near post.
Dunn was soon at it again with a jinking run but his shot from 20 yards lacked power and was easily gathered and he then looped a header straight into the keeper's arms.
The livewire Dunn then won a penalty when he was tripped by Kotsolis and Derbyshire scored at the second attempt after the keeper saved, but he was asked to retake and duly dispatched it in the left-hand corner to give Rovers a glimmer of hope in first-half injury-time.
Rovers hopes were raised further six minutes into the second half when Bentley jinked down the right and delivered a perfect cross for Warnock to volley home crisply at the far post.
Bentley almost created a third with another cross moments later but Derbyshire could only put his shot over the bar from close range.
The England Under 21 striker had another half-chance from Warnock's brilliant low cross from the left but again was off target under heavy pressure.
Santa Cruz almost fashioned a third out of nothing when he turned two defenders and unleashed a thunderbolt from 25 yards, but his effort was straight at Kotsolis who was able to hold on.
Larissa were fairly comfortable in the closing minutes as they held on for a famous win.
|Blackburn Rovers||Team Statistics||Larissa FC|
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|4||Shots on Target||3|
|8||Shots off Target||2|