Dickov sees off old club
By Simon Fudge. Last Updated: 13/03/05 3:07pm
Blackburn Rovers needed a late penalty to defeat Leicester City 1-0 in their FA Cup quarter final clash at Ewood Park.
The Premiership side reached their first semi-final since 1960, as Paul Dickov's spot kick with less than ten minutes remaining saw off a brave challenge from the only Football League club left in the competition on Sunday afternoon.
Rovers boss Mark Hughes named an unchanged side from the one that claimed a 1-0 away win at Everton last Sunday, with Dickov returning from a thigh injury to face his former club, but Robbie Savage missed the chance to face his old club with a groin problem.
Foxes manager Craig Levein again played fit-again Dion Dublin alongside Nikos Dabizas in the centre of his backline while Joey Gudjonsson and Lilian Nalis returned in a five-man midfield, as Mark de Vries played up front as a lone striker.
The opening 45 minutes proved fiercely competitive, but with little cutting edge, as both sides had spells of pressure before the break.
The best chance of the half came inside four minutes, as Danny Tiatto's foul on David Thompson gave Morton Gamst Pedersen a free kick opportunity just outside Leicester's box.
The Norwegian sublimely struck his set piece with his left foot over the Leicester wall, but with Ian Walker well beaten, the ball came off the post and away to safety.
Rovers kept pressing their Championship opponents, but from Garry Flitcroft's fine through ball, Dickov failed to properly connect with a first time right foot curler, leaving Walker to make an easy save.
Pedersen then had a chance to make amends with another free kick after Nalis had fouled Steven Reid about 35 yards out.
The former Tromso player's low strike beat a poorly-set Foxes wall, but rolled kindly to the awaiting Walker to make the save.
From that stage on, Blackburn struggled to find the target, as Thompson and Nils Johansson missed efforts of their own.
In fact, Leicester started to come into the match themselves and de Vries rightly had claims for a free kick after turning his marker in Ryan Nelsen on the edge of the Rovers box before being impeded by the New Zealand international.
Levein's side started to win possession in the Blackburn half and after shrugging off a Reid challenge on the edge of the box, Gareth Williams should have made more of his right foot strike that went high over the bar.
Leicester's best chance of the half then fell to Gudjonsson, as he struck a fine right foot volley across the face of Brad Friedel's goal after Nelsen failed to properly clear Nalis's corner from the left.
The first half was summed up by two late half chances at both ends, as Dickov missed the target with a turn and shot before Leicester's Gillespie forced an easy save out of Friedel from his run and low cross down the right flank.
The second half saw the visitors show more urgency to attack and they tested Friedel not long after the restart, as Dublin moved forward from his centre back position to head Gillespie's free kick from the right at the big American, who made the save at the near post.
The Foxes looked far improved going forward at this stage, though the final ball into the box let them down.
Blackburn made surges forward themselves and they should have tested Walker when Thompson latched on to a Pedersen knock-down in the Leicester box, but his left foot strike flew over the bar.
Pedersen proved a real danger for Rovers with his set-pieces and he nearly broke the deadlock again after Blackburn substitute Brett Emerton had his shirt pulled back by Alan Maybury.
The Scandinavian's left foot free kick from the right-hand side eluded everyone, as the ball flashed across the face of Walker's goal and away to safety.
Blackburn then had claims for a penalty after Lucas Neill did well to win possession in the Leicester half.
The Australian made a fine attacking run towards the box before playing compatriot Emerton down the right and his low cross found Neill right in front of goal. With the defender seemingly on the verge of scoring, Nalis looked to have fouled Neill, but the Frenchman had done just enough to see the ball roll into the arms of Walker.
Undeterred, Blackburn kept pressing and with ten minutes remaining, they made the breakthrough after Pedersen was taken out in the Leicester box by the diving challenge of Foxes defender Darren Kenton, as referee Neale Barry pointed to the penalty spot.
Dickov stepped up to hammer his spot kick down the middle and past Walker, who had dived out of the way to his left to make it 1-0 - much to the delight of the Ewood Park crowd.
The dying stages saw The Foxes to try and level the tie, but Blackburn held to reach Monday's semi-final draw, while Leicester will now return to matters in The Championship for the rest of the season.
|Blackburn Rovers||Team Statistics||Leicester City|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||3|
|5||Shots off Target||3|