Roque brace hands Rovers win
Goals from Santa Cruz and Roberts ensure Blackburn victory
By Laura Slatcher. Last Updated: 03/05/08 5:16pm
Santa Cruz: Netted twice
Two goals from Roque Santa Cruz helped Blackburn come from behind to win 3-1 against hapless Derby.
Derby went ahead after 19 minutes when Kenny Miller beat the offside trap to latch onto a Roy Carroll ball up field, calmly slotting it past Brad Friedel.
Santa Cruz levelled for Rovers late into the first half after Morten Gamst Pedersen's shot was punched into his path by Carroll, the Paraguayan sending home his 18th of the season.
Blackburn took the lead immediately after the break when Andy Todd's attempted clearance found Jason Roberts who sent it past an unconfident Carroll.
Santa Cruz maintained his push for 20 Premier League goals this season when he met a David Bentley cross at the far post to head home in the 77th minute.
Officially the worst
And Paul Jewell's dismal Derby are now officially the worst team in Premier League history after their 28th defeat of the season.
The Rams' latest loss leaves them stranded on 11 points with just one game to go, and means they cannot now overhaul Sunderland's previous record low total of 15 points from two years ago.
Former Rover Jay McEveley sent in an early cross which just failed to reach the outstretched boot of Robert Earnshaw, then Tyrone Mears tested Friedel from the opposite flank.
The Rams came closer in the eighth minute when Friedel lashed a poor back-pass from Steven Reid straight at the heel of Earnshaw and saw the ball rebound inches over the Rovers bar.
But the Derby defence, including 19-year-old Barclays Premier League debutant Miles Addison, was frequently stretched with both Roberts and Gamst Pedersen afforded space to fire just the wrong side of the upright.
The visitors grabbed their shock lead in the 19th minute when Miller timed his run from the halfway line to perfection to latch onto Carroll's punt upfield and run on to coolly place the ball past Friedel.
Stunned by the Rams' surprise opener, Rovers lost their momentum and as the game meandered towards the half-hour mark only Brett Emerton's deflected effort which squirmed round the post came close.
Derby were perhaps daring to dream of only a second win of the season at that point but they were woken up by David Bentley's audacious 34th-minute lob which beat Carroll but landed on the roof of the net.
Then defender Chris Samba came closer when he got his head on to a well-placed Bentley free-kick from the left flank but steered the ball straight at the grateful Carroll from point-blank range.
Rovers finally grabbed their equaliser deep into first-half injury-time when Pedersen's low effort was parried by Carroll into the path of Santa Cruz, who poked home from six yards.
The second half was less than two minutes old when Rovers benefited from some more dreadful Rams defending to take the lead, Todd's loose ball in the box presenting Roberts with the chance to sweep the ball home.
And moments later Roberts could have put the home side further ahead from an identical position in the right side of the box before Moore got back with a superb saving challenge.
Rovers had another chance in the 54th minute when Bentley played on through a loud penalty appeal and dribbled to the edge of the six-yard box before Addison's tackle denied him a shooting chance.
With Rovers rampant, Santa Cruz should have grabbed his second only to screw a close-range effort the wrong side of Carroll's left-hand post, and Roberts' spectacular overhead kick was superbly saved by the keeper.
Roberts was given another golden chance in the 63rd minute but his rising effort was flapped out for a corner by Carroll, then Emerton drilled a low shot inches wide from the resulting set-piece.The home side's inevitable third came in the 78th minute when Bentley swung in a right-foot cross from the left and Santa Cruz beat Roberts to the ball at the far post to net his second with a stooping header.
|Blackburn Rovers||Team Statistics||Derby County|
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|10||Shots on Target||2|
|11||Shots off Target||3|
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Ham United||23||36|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||23||22|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||23||19|