10-man Liverpool sinks Blackburn
Apr 12, 2012 03:26 AM , By AFP
Andy Caroll scores a dramatic injury-time winner

Andy Carroll struck a dramatic injury-time winner as 10-man Liverpool beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2 at Ewood Park in a rollercoaster Premier League clash here on Tuesday.

Liverpool looked to be cruising to victory after goals from Maxi Rodriguez fired it into a 2-0 lead early on.

But a red card for goalkeeper Alexander Doni — himself filling in for the suspended Pepe Reina — changed the complexion of the game and thrust third-choice goalkeeper Brad Jones into the limelight.

Jones promptly announced his entrance by saving Ayegbeni Yakubu's spot-kick but Blackburn hauled itself back into the contest and eventually drew level.

Yakubu made amends for his penalty miss to head home for 2-1 and then levelled from the penalty spot in the second half to make it 2-2 and give Blackburn hope of pulling clear of the relegation zone.

However, Carroll was to have the final word with his header a minute into stoppage time to give Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager, another Ewood Park occasion to put in his memory bank.

Special ground

It will always be a special ground for Dalglish after winning the championship while in charge of Blackburn in 1995.

And it became extra-special within 16 minutes as Liverpool's lightning start eased the pressure on Dalglish.

Only 13 minutes had gone when Blackburn went behind, with much of the credit going to Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel who speared a splendid 80-yard pass into the feet of Craig Bellamy.

The winger charged forward before delivering a perfectly-judged cross that Rodriguez turned in from close-range.

Three minutes later, Liverpool stretched its lead — and Rodriguez was again the scorer after impressive work from Jonjo Shelvey.

The midfielder won the ball in midfield and surged forward to force a save from Blackburn's keeper Paul Robinson.

Carroll's shot from the rebound was blocked, but Rodriguez was more clinical when the ball dropped to his feet and he swept it in.

Liverpool's stunning start came despite a much-changed side with Dalglish clearly eyeing this weekend's FA Cup semifinal against Everton.

Another regular missing was Pepe Reina, serving the second game of his three match suspension to give a rare opportunity to Brazilian Doni.

Reina's red card at Newcastle had presented Doni with the chance to play in Saturday's semifinal — but his Wembley dream was shattered after just 25 minutes after he brought down Junior Hoilett.

Third-choice keeper Jones replaced Jon Flanagan, the full-back whose mishit back-pass had left Hoilett racing clear.

And Jones, now heading to the Wembley showpiece tie, made an instant impact when he saved the unconvincing penalty from Yakubu.

Jones was beaten, though, in the 36th minute when a fine free-kick from David Dunn gave Yakubu the chance to head inside the post from eight yards.

Dalglish's outnumbered team was pinned back for long periods during the rest of the match.

Jones dealt with a 55th minute shot from Dunn and also went down quickly to clutch a 58th-minute header from Grant Hanley, but Blackburn did draw level three minutes later.

The result:

Blackburn 2 (Yakubu 36, 61-pen) lost to Liverpool 3 (Maxi Rodriguez 13, 16, Carroll 90+1).

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