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Barclays Premier League

Ewood Park (ATT 27,946) 2nd February 2008 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: A Wiley

Blackburn Blackburn Rovers vs Everton Everton

Controversy in Ewood stalemate

Johnson's goal four minutes from time ruled offside

By Laura Slatcher.   Last Updated: 02/02/08 6:04pm

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Hard fought: Bentley tussles with Lescott

Hard fought: Bentley tussles with Lescott

Blackburn and Everton both maintained their unbeaten record to the new year after an entertaining goalless draw at Ewood Park.

Everton had the ball in the net four minutes from time but Andy Johnson's strike was controversially ruled offside.

Blackburn goalkeeper Brad Friedel had come out of his 18-yard box to clear but was challenged by Everton substitute James Vaughan who squared the ball across to a retreating Johnson.

Roque Santa Cruz had Blackburn's first chance of the game in the second minute after getting in front of Joleon Lescott to latch onto David Bentley's corner, his header going wide.

The second half saw both sides attacking and Everton nearly took the lead in the 63rd minute when Manuel Ferdnandes' strike came off the post.

Quality

Everton's quality was illustrated during the opening quarter as Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill and Leon Osman knitted several sequences of intricate passing together.

In the 14th minute, Johnson's neat pass found Arteta in space and the Spaniard quickly shunted possession to Phil Neville out wide on the right flank.

The skipper whipped in a fine cross at pace but Blackburn averted the danger before Johnson fired in another teasing ball two minutes later which forced the recalled Zurab Khizanishvili into a vital clearance.

Rovers midfielder David Dunn earned a yellow card for a cynical foul on Arteta midway through the opening period, which said everything about the perceived threat of Everton's playmaker.

Blackburn's defence then stood mesmerised as Arteta was given the time and space to weave his way on to the edge of the 18-yard box and crack a fierce, low left-footed drive goalwards.

Friedel could only parry the shot back into the danger zone and a desperate Blackburn boot hacked the ball clear.

From the resultant corner on the left by Fernandes, the ball fell to Osman 18 yards from goal and he hit a low right foot shot which missed Friedel's far post by inches.

Bentley, who struggled to reproduce his best form, finally served notice of his threat three minutes before the break with an ambitious 25-yard strike which dipped over Tim Howard's crossbar.

But Everton fashioned their clearest chance yet on the stroke of half-time when Dunn was forced to head the ball off the line from Johnson's diving header after a corner was flicked into his path.

Contrast

While the first half was a cagey and instantly forgettable affair, the second period was a welcome contrast.

Just 18 seconds of the restart had passed when Bentley collected possession, strode forward and rifled in a low shot which forced Howard into his first save of note.

Two minutes later, Arteta's clever pass found Fernandes unmarked but his low shot was expertly repelled by Friedel.

A series of niggling challenges from both sets of players saw Brett Emerton booked for a late challenge on Arteta, who proved key to a spell of sustained Everton pressure.

Neville's right-wing cross was headed wastefully wide by Osman and then Fernandes saw his 25-yard free-kick beat Friedel but bounce agonisingly back off an upright.

Everton continued to look dangerous and should have claimed victory with five minutes remaining when substitute Vaughan broke clear, beat Friedel to the ball and unselfishly fed the supporting Johnson.

He provided a calm finish into Friedel's empty net but a raised flag from a referee's assistant quickly put paid to his celebrations.

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Blackburn RoversTeam StatisticsEverton
0Goals0
01st Half Goals0
3Shots on Target4
7Shots off Target5
4Blocked Shots1
4Corners9
20Fouls17
1Offsides2
4Yellow Cards2
0Red Cards0
73.6Passing Success65.8
28Tackles14
89.3Tackles Success71.4
57.4Possession42.6
51Territorial Advantage49

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Matches

Table

Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 1 3
2 Manchester City 1 3
3 Arsenal 1 3
4 Liverpool 1 3
5 Swansea City 1 3
6 Aston Villa 1 3
7 Hull City 1 3
8 Tottenham Hotspur 1 3
9 Everton 1 1
10 Leicester City 1 1
11 Sunderland 1 1
12 West Bromwich Albion 1 1
13 Crystal Palace 1 0
14 Manchester United 1 0
15 Southampton 1 0
16 Queens Park Rangers 1 0
17 Stoke City 1 0
18 West Ham United 1 0
19 Burnley 1 0
20 Newcastle United 1 0

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