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Hit hard by late goals

Blackburn Rovers snatched an unlikely victory with two late goals after a Robbie Keane penalty saw us lead and proceed to dominate at Ewood Park.

Blackburn Rovers snatched an unlikely victory with two late goals after a Robbie Keane penalty saw us lead and proceed to dominate at Ewood Park.

It really was a case of defeat from the jaws of victory and leaving Lancashire without at least a point would have appeared impossible until the last ten minutes or so.

That's when Wilson Palacios was sent off after two quickfire yellow cards - the second decision somewhat harsh as he appeared to pull out of the tackle on David Dunn - and the home side, naturally lifted, turned the game around.

With the exception of Heurelho Gomes having to deal with a back pass of rather too much force from Jonathan Woodgate, the opening exchanges of this contest were not ones that really looked likely to generate any excitement in front of goal.

Hardly surprising maybe, given the AirMiles collected by many of the players from both sides over the last two weeks. One who wasn't on his travels, Paul Robinson, received his anticipated appreciation from the Spurs thousands behind his goal before his opposite number was given his second concern of the afternoon at the other end.

A cross from the left by Morten Gamst Pedersen was cleverly worked out by El Hadji Diouf, who ghosted in behind his marker and planted a header just beyond Gomes' right hand upright. Ledley King was next to call heads, stealing in at the near post to meet a Luka Modric corner, glancing across the face of Robinson's goal.

On 19 minutes, Palacios ventured forward and superbly picked out the run of Darren Bent behind the Blackburn defences. The striker drilled in a powerful drive that appeared to be arrowing into the bottom corner before Robinson reached out and brilliantly diverted.

A long throw from Pedersen then caused confusion when the ball landed in our area, Diouf was quickest to respond and his free hit on goal looked like rattling the net until a late intervention from Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

Vedran Corluka was next to try his luck at opening the scoring, but this was duly achieved when, on 28 minutes, an Aaron Lennon cross struck the arm of Gael Givet and referee Mr Walton pointed to the penalty spot. There was the usual protest and delay, but eventually Keane was able to pit his wits against his former teammate and placed his kick with aplomb in the bottom left hand corner. Robbo guessed right but could not quite reach.

A bit of Modric magic could have made it two before the break after the little playmaker combined with Keane, but Blackburn employed safety in numbers and managed to crowd out the Croatian.

There was a Blackburn change at the break as Jason Roberts was withdrawn injured and the giant Chris Samba was deployed in attack, offering a fair guide to home intentions for the second half.

If Blackburn wanted to employ the order of the big boot, it was made all the more challenging by the men in black performing some intricate possession football which, while it didn't lead to much to overly concern Robinson, the home side were getting stretched and a little ragged.

A second goal, however, you suspected was needed and would certainly have been warranted.

The wily Tugay was introduced by Sam Allardyce in the 64th minute in an attempt to restore some order to the Rovers engine room, but he quickly lost the ball and it led to Assou-Ekotto flighting in a low cross that Darren Bent was unfortunate not to get more of a touch on.

Jermaine Jenas, a magnificent presence throughout with his industry and perhaps unnoted tenacity in the heart of midfield, measured a superb low cross along the front of goal that neither Bent or Keane could quite reach, the same with a Lennon centre moments after - one touch and Rovers would have been re-starting from the half-way line.

It could have been us doing just that though when Diouf teased a cross into the near post and Benni McCarthy plunged his head towards the ball. The South African could not provide any direction a rare threat passed.

Palacios was booked for two fouls in quick succession and there was no leeway from Mr Walton, who brandished red, leaving us to face the last 10 minutes with 10 men.

The deficit proved costly just moments later when Samba shrugged off Jonathan Woodgate and rolled the ball to where McCarthy was waiting to tap in right in front of goal on 82 minutes.

Gomes pulled off a stunning save from Stephen Warnock before a Diouf corner somehow squirted through a crowd of players at the near post and the substitute Andre Ooijer was in place to tap home in the final minute of normal time.

Blackburn and a crowd of 21,891 will probably not quite believe they snatched a victory from this one.