domingo, 4 de diciembre de 2011

Blackburn Rovers 4 - 2 Swansea City

Yakubu gave a goalscoring masterclass on Saturday after the Nigerian scored all four goals for Blackburn, in a very important victory for Blackburn and Steve Kean, much to the misfortune of Swansea City.

This was one of the first of four “cup final” matches for Steve Kean, who is still far from convincing the Rovers faithful after yet another protest against the Scotsman by sporting t-shirts emblazoned with “100% Rovers 0% Kean Venky’s”. However the players seem to be fully behind Kean, a sentiment which was demonstrated by the four goal hero Yakubu by going straight to his manager whilst celebrating the first goal of the afternoon.

The power and presence of “The Yak” was simply too much for the Swansea backline after a hatrick of goals originating from set piece scenarios and a stunning strike within the first 20 minutes to start proceedings.

After an edgy start to the game where Swansea maintained their football mantra with much ease and efficiency but it was a break by Blackburn which proved that clinical finishing is the one element that Swansea are lacking. A well played one-two between Yakubu and Gael Givet gave the striker enough room to rifle a cannonball of a strike into the top right corner of the goal. Despite all of Swansea’s build up play, it is this presence in front of goal their clearly lacking, especially with the loss of Danny Graham to injury.

Swansea, however, replied well to going a goal behind and within 15 minutes of Yakubu’s first goal they were back to level terms. A sublime cross from Mark Gower, statistically the biggest creator of goalscoring chances in Europe, found Leroy Lita at the back post to power a headed effort past the reach of Paul Robinson.

It was Yakubu that denied the teams going in to the half time break at square one though. His first of three goals from set piece scenarios came from a Blackburn corner deep into injury time of the first half. What seemed to be a skewed, volleyed shot from Simon Vukcevic found it’s way to a Yakubu who instinctively nodded the ball past a helpless Michel Vorm in the Swansea goal.

Kean was visibly overjoyed with the goal and it certainly made his half time team talk a lot easier, but as Blackburn have demonstrated in the past, a one goal advantage is rarely enough for the team that struggle to finish off their opponents from winning positions.

Yakubu secured his hat-trick just before the hour mark from another corner situation. The returning Chris Samba was first to meet the ball from Morten Gamst Pedersen and headed the ball on for Yakubu to convert for his third. It was clear from this goal alone that the towering presence of Samba and the strength of Yakubu was way too much for Swansea to deal with, which did come as a surprise considering their effective efforts of thwarting the height and physical presence of Stoke in the past.

It was the introduction of Wayne Routledge for the second half that injected Swansea with a little more dynamism and pace to their play. The man he replaced, Nathan Dyer, often displays his never ending work rate, acceleration and pace but struggled to do so against Gael Givet. Routledge seemed to overcome the problems Givet gave Dyer and was the architect for Swansea’s lifeline goal.

Routledge’s fleet footed play gave him the extra yard over the Blackburn defence in an attack which culminated in Paul Robinson intercepting the winger’s cross for the ball to make it’s way to Luke Moore to smash into the net on the rebound. It was far from a simple conversion for an empty net for the striker, who was brought on as a substitute five minutes previously, due to the pressure he was put under from the surrounding Blackburn defensive line.

With the advantage brought down to just one goal yet again and Swansea opting for a more attacking 4-4-2 system, nerves were starting to show for Rovers with the fans almost expecting another collapse from their team. Referee Chris Foy calmed those nerves after his decision to give Joe Allen a second yellow card, for a push on Junior Hoilett, to send the Welsh international for an early shower. The decision appeared to be a little soft, especially for a second yellow, but contact was made and Foy was in good view of the incident.

It went from bad to worse for Swansea with left back Neil Taylor conceding a penalty less than two minutes after they were reduced to 10 men. An attacking run into the box from Simon Vukcevic was impeded by Taylor and Chris Foy immediately pointed to the spot. Yakubu stepped up and converted the penalty with ease and pure confidence for his, and Blackburn’s, fourth goal.

It’s the second time Yakubu has notched up four goals for his team, doing the same for Portsmouth over 7 years ago and whilst the front man would be deservedly be receiving the plaudits for his performance, it was a good team performance all round for them. Mauro Formica gave an excellent playmakers performance, playing just behind Yakubu and Chris Samba added to Swansea’s woes with a solid defensive and effective attacking shift.

Swansea fans will be disappointed with the result as they looked to take their first away win of the season from a Blackburn team that appeared to be there for the taking. Scott Sinclair’s end ball was a particular disappointment for the away fans after he repeatedly got the best of Blackburn full back Jason Lowe, to cut in from the wing, but failed to convert any of his trademark shots at goal.

The win for Blackburn sees them lifted from the root of the table but still in the relegation zone with 10 points. Swansea sit just 4 places above them with 14 points but could drop further down the table if Wolves or Sunderland take 3 points from their match on Sunday or if Fulham secure an upset against Liverpool on Monday.

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