Rovers rule at Villa Park
Late Dunne own goal hands Blackburn the spoils
By Joe Drabble. Last Updated: 09/05/10 7:52pm
Samba and Salgado celebrate at Villa Park
Blackburn secured a top 10 Premier League finish after a smash-and-grab 1-0 victory over Aston Villa.
Richard Dunne's unfortunate own goal six minutes from time handed Rovers the points following a stoic defensive display at Villa Park.
Blackburn goalkeeper Paul Robinson put his name firmly in the England World Cup frame with a string of fine saves to keep the visitors in the game in the opening 45 minutes.
The former England No.1 denied James Collins and Gabriel Agbonlahor with point-blank saves while James Milner also had a free-kick well saved.
After riding their luck Blackburn, who should have had a penalty after the break when Collins chopped down David Dunn, snatched the win when Dunne inadvertently headed Martin Olsson's cross into his own net.
The win was just Blackburn's third away from Ewood Park this season, however Villa still clinched sixth spot after Liverpool were held at Hull.
The hosts had the first chance after six minutes when John Carew intercepted a misplaced backwards pass by Gael Givet.
The Norwegian surged forward only to be outmuscled by Chris Samba, but from the resulting corner, Collins directed a header on target which Robinson did well to save.
At the other end, Brad Friedel fumbled a long ball over the touchline and after Villa had dealt with one corner, the next led to Dunn driving an effort wide to the right.
Villa broke back as Carew latched on to Milner's through ball, but Robinson dived to smother the striker's cross into the six-yard box.
Teenage defender Grant Hanley - making his Rovers senior debut - showed he was not afraid to go in where it hurts when he got in the way of a Carew attempt, and Stewart Downing came off worst in a clash of heads with Michel Salgado as they leapt to meet Ashley Young's cross, the former Middlesbrough winger having to receive treatment before carrying on.
Hanley then attempted to make his presence felt in the opposition's area, rising to connect with Dunn's corner but sending his downward header wide.
Five minutes before the break, Villa's former Blackburn defender Stephen Warnock limped out of the action to be replaced by Luke Young.
Moments later, Robinson parried a fierce drive from Collins, but Gabriel Agbonlahor was unable to take advantage.
Robinson then pushed away Milner's free-kick from 25 yards after Dunn had brought down Young, and was on hand again to collect Agbonlahor's close-range header.
Rovers boss Sam Allardyce brought on Morten Gamst Pedersen for another debutant, Amine Linganzi, at half-time and the substitute's free-kick was punched away by Friedel shortly after the restart.
Dunn then thought he had won a penalty after going down in the box under a challenge by Collins having been fed by Keith Andrews.
Replays suggested contact was made between the two players, but referee Steve Bennett adjudged Dunn to have dived and showed him the yellow card.
Villa almost made the breakthrough moments later but Milner was unable to get the decisive touch at the far post after Carew had headed on Downing's cross.
Friedel then pushed away a drive from Andrews, but it was the hosts who were still looking the more incisive as Stiliyan Petrov fired a shot into the side-netting.
It was Villa's turn to scream for a spot-kick 15 minutes from time when Samba tangled with Carew, but again it was to no avail as Bennett waved play on.
That would be Carew's last contribution as he departed the field for Emile Heskey, who could have made an immediate impact but sent a bouncing header wide from just a few yards out.
Villa manager Martin O'Neill then threw on Nathan Delfouneso in search of a winner, but it was Rovers who found it six minutes from time.
Olsson delivered the cross and David Hoilett dived to meet it with his head - but it was his marker Dunne who got the final touch as the ball flashed past Friedel and in.
Milner then stung Robinson's palms with a volley, but Rovers hung on to secure their place in the top half.
|Aston Villa||Team Statistics||Blackburn Rovers|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||1|
|6||Shots off Target||7|
Barclays Premier League
Sun 9th May
Man Utd4 - 0Stoke
Arsenal4 - 0Fulham
Burnley4 - 2Tottenham
Hull City0 - 0Liverpool
Everton1 - 0Portsmth
Chelsea8 - 0Wigan
Wolves2 - 1S'land
West Ham1 - 1Man City
A Villa0 - 1Blackburn
Bolton2 - 1Birm'ham
Barclays Premier League
|11||West Ham United||37||47|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||37||44|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||37||30|