Rovers battle back to win
Substitutes turn game for battling Blackburn
By Peter Fraser. Last Updated: 11/08/07 7:37pm
Derbyshire: Blackburn winner
Roque Santa Cruz and Matt Derbyshire made immediate impacts from the bench to steer Blackburn Rovers to a 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough.
Stewart Downing had given Gareth Southgate's side the lead on 31 minutes when he curled a free-kick through a weak Blackburn defensive wall.
But then after the interval, Rovers came storming back when first Santa Cruz marked his debut by heading in a David Bentley cross on 63 minutes.
The Paraguayan forward had only just entered the game from the bench as a replacement for Benni McCarthy after the South African suffered a sickening clash of heads with Chris Riggot.
Derbyshire then gave Rovers the lead 23 seconds after coming off the bench when he curled a delightful 79th minute effort past Mark Schwarzer from 25 yards.
Middlesbrough threw everything they had at Rovers, but they could not find what was required as tempers flared and the final whistle was marred by a mass scuffle involving members of both sides.
Until Santa Cruz's introduction Middlesbrough had enjoyed the better of the chances but his qualities put the home side on the back-foot.
The game had been refreshingly open from the start and David Wheater used his commanding height to direct a terrific downward header but Brad Friedel pulled off a good save in the Blackburn goal.
Mark Schwarzer came racing off his line to deny Roberts, who had been put through by Dunn, then Downing had a go from 25 yards but straight into Friedel's arms.
Warnock needlessly conceded a corner from which Downing caused some panic, then the Blackburn defender committed the same blunder a minute later.
This time Chris Riggott flicked on Downing's flag-kick but Wheater could only guide the ball the wrong side of the post.
Middlesbrough took the lead in the 31st minute after Chris Samba's reckless barge on Yakubu presented Downing with a free-kick in presentable range.
The England left-winger stepped up and curled the kick low around the Blackburn wall and into the corner.
It was well-deserved for the home side who had created by far the best opportunities at that point - leaving Rovers boss Mark Hughes so angry it earned him a touchline ticking off from referee Andre Marriner.
Immediately after the break, Julio Arca felled Dunn and Pedersen took the free-kick from 30-yards out only to drive it into the wall.
Then came the incident with McCarthy, who had picked up a knock on the head in a challenge with Riggott, and collapsed as he was speaking to Blackburn's physio.
After lengthy treatment on the pitch, the South African striker was taken from the field on a stretcher and wearing a neck-brace.
Santa Cruz came on in his place and it took a matter of two minutes and 30 seconds for the Paraguayan striker to make an impact, scoring a towering header with only his third touch in Premier League football.
Bentley produced the cross from the byline and Santa Cruz rose above Riggott and Wheater to crash home a header for the equaliser.
Derbyshire served notice however that he is not willing to be left on the sidelines this season, and a pretty special goal it was by the 21-year-old.
Picking up the ball on the left, he jinked inside and then curled a splendid shot that left Schwarzer grasping thin air on its way into the top corner.
In injury-time, Wheater almost grabbed a point with a powerful header that Friedel clawed away and Samba cleared the loose ball in the nick of time.
|Middlesbrough||Team Statistics||Blackburn Rovers|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||2|
|3||Shots off Target||0|
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|11||West Ham United||34||44|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||34||37|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||34||27|