Premier League - Blackburn heap misery on Hodgson

Wed, 05 Jan 21:51:00 2011

It was an unhappy return to Ewood Park for Roy Hodgson as his Liverpool side slumped to a 3-1 defeat to former club Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League.

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Benjani Mwaruwari was the fulcrum of a deserved win for the hosts, setting up Martin Olsson for the first before scoring either side of half time to give the home side a three-goal advantage.

Steven Gerrard scored a late consolation for the visitors and then went on to miss a penalty but even if Liverpool had salvaged a late draw it would not have saved Hodgson from another round of speculation regarding his future following another poor showing from his side.

Despite a much needed injury-time victory over Bolton on New Year’s Day, rumours continue around Hodgson’s tenure in the build-up to this clash - with Borussia Dortmund’s Juergen Klopp and former Hoffenheim coach, Ralf Rangnick, the latest names added to a list of potential successors.

And with bitter rivals Manchester United and Everton on the horizon, it was imperative to Hodgson and Liverpool’s season that they put an end to a disastrous record on the road that has seen the Reds pick up a measly five points away from Anfield during the 63-year-old's time at the club.

Hodgson restored Gerrard to the starting XI for the trip to Blackburn following his enforced seventy minute salvo against Bolton but could not call on the services of Jamie Carragher, who remained sidelined by a shoulder injury.

Steve Kean, whose side have been linked with audacious moves for Ronaldinho and David Beckham in recent days, has had a mixed start to his reign - winning only one of four. An injury list that includes seven first teamers has not helped his cause but for the first time in four matches he could call upon captain Christopher Samba. 

Despite a lack of personnel, the hosts took the early initiative and although the first chance of note came to the head of Fernando Torres, it was Kean's men who looked most likely to score.

First, Dunn volleyed over from outside the box following a long Morten Gamst Pedersen throw before Mame Diouf contrived to fumble a gilt-edged effort straight at Pepe Reina from no more than eight yards out.

Liverpool did threaten intermittently through Joe Cole, who fired across the face of Mark Bunn's goal before seeing a sweetly struck effort charged down for a corner by Samba.

In fact, it was from that corner that Rovers broke to take the lead.

Benjani was given time and space to collect a clearance before exposing Johnson's defensive frailties with a clever through ball that afforded Olsson a one-on-one with Reina.

The winger remained composed to slip the ball under the on-rushing keeper.

Liverpool regrouped and Glen Johnson manufactured an opening for Torres with a deft clipped ball to the back post, but a tame header from a tight angle saw immediate redemption go begging.

Hodgson barely had time to curse that miss before his side were two goals behind. Having received the ball with his back to goal, Benjani manhandled Sotiris Kyrgiakos before firing through Reina to send Ewood into raptures.

The visitors began the second half with a greater sense of urgency but could only muster half chances with Gerrard and Cole both drawing saves from Bunn.

But the renaissance was short-lived as Benjani grabbed his second to put the game beyond the visitors following great work from David Hoilett down the left.

Further opportunities were at a premium for Liverpool, who played with urgency, if not composure in the second half. Even the goal was a half-chance, Gerrard pouncing on a blocked Torres effort to fire past Bunn.

Liverpool were certainly in the ascendancy as the game drew to a close but, bar the missed penalty, chances were at a premium.

Marcus Foley / Eurosport

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