Wolves off to a flyer
Ward stunner claims all three points for visitors at Ewood Park
Last Updated: August 13, 2011 6:35pm
Wolves came from a goal down at Blackburn to open the new Premier League campaign with a fine 2-1 success at Ewood Park.
The home side opened the scoring with a goal from Mauro Formica midway through the first half. Jason Roberts was strong on the edge of the box, holding the play up well before squaring it for Formica to finish with a shot across goal.
The visitors hit back just two minutes later following a header on the edge of the six-yard box from Steven Fletcher, who out-jumped Michel Salgado to power home Matt Jarvis' dinked cross from the by-line.
The away side were then awarded a penalty early in the second half but Kevin Doyle's weak spot-kick was easily saved. However, Stephen Ward was able to take full advantage of a poor clearance from Salgado to volley the ball in from inside the box.
The goal proved the decisive moment of the game as even the late introduction of summer signing David Goodwillie was unable to inspire the home side to carve out an equaliser.
It was Steve Kean's men who started better and they almost grabbed the lead in the fourth minute when Morten Gamst Pedersen found space on the right to deliver a low cross.
Junior Hoilett stretched his left foot at the far post and looked to have prodded his side ahead, only for Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey to gather in a goal-line melee.
With Rovers still stunned by their near miss, Wolves broke up the other end and Jarvis almost teed up Doyle in the box before the linesman flagged for offside.
Roger Johnson was the first player in referee Kevin Friend's book for a foul on Gamst Pedersen but David Dunn's dangerous-looking free-kick came to nothing with Brett Emerton firing the rebound over the bar.
Roberts' persistence paid off after 20 minutes when he squeezed through two defenders and fed Formica who nudged a left-foot shot across Hennessey and into the net from a tight angle.
But Wolves were level just two minutes later when Jarvis dug out an excellent cross from the right and Fletcher rose in the box to head past Rovers keeper Paul Robinson.
Buoyed by their unexpected equaliser, Wolves continued to press and might have gone ahead after 28 minutes when Stephen Hunt blazed just over after some neat play in the box.
Rovers regrouped and, led by the bustling Roberts, forced their way back into the game as Formica had a hopeful penalty appeal turned down after falling under a Karl Henry challenge.
It was Wolves who won a penalty within a minute of the restart when Friend deemed Salgado had hauled down Jarvis close to the by-line.
Doyle's penalty was saved by Robinson low to the keeper's left but the ball was only half-cleared by Salgado and fell to Ward who lashed home a left-foot shot from just inside the box.
Wolves almost went further ahead after 51 minutes when substitute Kevin Foley crossed to Fletcher who had time to chest the ball down in front of goal before a crucial interception by Steven Nzonzi.
McCarthy's men, looking confident and tenacious, continued to pin the home side back in their own half and already the first murmurings of discontent were evident among the Rovers support.
In a rare chance, Roberts and Nzonzi contrived to miss a David Dunn corner in the Wolves six-yard box and Kean responded by throwing on Goodwillie for the final 20 minutes.
It was another substitute, Ruben Rochina, who came closest to an equaliser for Rovers in the 75th minute when he lashed a long-range effort just wide.Goodwillie also came close with a shot on the turn in the 83rd minute but Rovers' quest for an equaliser petered out and the boos at the final whistle suggested a hard season ahead.
|Blackburn Rovers||Team Statistics||Wolverhampton Wanderers|
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|2||Shots on Target||4|
|8||Shots off Target||9|
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|