sábado, 29 de octubre de 2011

Norwich City 3 - 3 Blackburn Rovers

Poor old Steve Kean. Blackburn Rovers produced a vibrant attacking performance at Carrow Road, but still found themselves pegged back from a 3-1 lead in the final eight minutes to share the points with a dogged Norwich City. Despite seeing his team climb off the bottom thanks to their point it was a bitter pill for Kean: Norwich's late goals came from a deflection and a debatable penalty.

"To have the game in the palm of your hand and have it taken away from you it's a really tough blow. It feels like a defeat," Kean said. If Blackburn have a sense of injustice it will focus on the penalty awarded in stoppage time for handball by Steven Nzonzi. The Frenchman seemed to lose sight of a high ball, which ended up rolling down his arm.

"I've looked at it from six or seven angles and we feel Steven was fouled and what he's doing is appealing for a free-kick," Kean said. "Then the ball hit his arm. There was obviously no intent."

A foul it may have been, but in truth if Blackburn have anyone to blame it is themselves for failing to close out a match that was theirs for the taking.

This had looked like a meeting of teams at opposite poles of the mood-spectrum: feel-good Norwich versus feel-bad Blackburn. Happily it was the sunny disposition of the hosts that prevailed as the first half settled into a breezy, helter-skelter exchange of attacks. Norwich had the better possession: David Fox's spectacular 25-yard roundhouse volley from Steve Morison's lay-off brought a diving save from Paul Robinson and Elliott Bennett fired into the side netting. But Blackburn looked dangerous and with a minute of first-half injury time played the opening goal arrived in spectacular fashion. Junior Hoilett twisted inside from the left wing and hit a sublime right foot shot beyond John Ruddy's dive and into the far top corner.

Eight minutes into the second half, Morison bettered Hoilett's effort at the same end: controlling Chris Samba's defensive header on the edge of the area, the Welshman cushioned the ball before hitting a wonderful dipping shot above and beyond Robinson's grasp.

Blackburn steadily took control from that point, with Rubén Rochina, Hoilett and Nzonzi a cut above in midfield. On 62 minutes they were back in front. Rochina's superbly weighted pass set Yakubu Ayegbeni lumbering in on goal and the striker's low shot swerved away to beat Ruddy by his near post. A minute later it was 3-1, Morten Gamst Pedersen's low free-kick headed in by the unmarked Samba.

It was a lead Blackburn never looked like keeping. On 82 minutes, Bradley Johnson's deflected shot looped over Robinson and under the bar. And on 90 minutes the game's key moment arrived. Referee Anthony Taylor awarded a penalty from 25 yards away and Grant Holt smashed the kick into the corner.

Paul Lambert claimed not to have seen the incident and instead focused on Holt's cool execution. "Nerves always pay a huge part when you see the whites of the goalkeeper's eyes. It takes a huge player to step up and score a goal like that. His goal at Liverpool was brilliant but that one in its own way was even better."

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