Premier League - Stoke pile misery on Blackburn

Sat, 26 Nov 14:40:00 2011

Blackburn Rovers slumped to a fifth defeat in their last eight Premier League games after they were comfortably beaten 3-1 by Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.

Stoke 3 Blackburn 1

Rory Delap headed the Potters in front on 28 minutes, extending Rovers' run of failing to keep a clean sheet to 16 league games.

Second-half goals from Glenn Whelan and Peter Crouch rounded off the win for the Potters and increased the pressure on Rovers manager Steve Kean.

Ruben Rochina scored a fine strike in the last five minutes, but it never looked like being any more than a consolation.

The win ended a run of four straight defeats for Stoke, putting some much-needed daylight between them and the relegation zone. Blackburn remain in the bottom three, although they would not have escaped it even if they had claimed what would have been only their second league win of the season.

Just past the midway point of an uninspiring first half, Delap got in front of Gael Givet to glance Jermaine Pennant's free-kick past goalkeeper Paul Robinson to give Stoke the half-time lead.

Steven N'Zonzi had conceded the set piece which led to the goal with a clumsy foul on Peter Crouch. The Blackburn midfielder had previously benefited from plenty of leniency from referee Mark Halsey, who either missed or declined to penalise the Frenchman on several instances of flinging elbows and aerial fouls on Stoke players.

One such incident drew blood from Whelan. Like all of his Stoke team-mates, Whelan was sporting a moustache in support of the Movember campaign, and his own face furniture was tinted red.

That did not stop Whelan denying Scott Dann an equaliser when he was on the goal-line to head the Blackburn defender's looping header away after it had beaten Thomas Sorensen, who was playing back-to-back league games in the Stoke goal for the first time in more than a year.

Blackburn started the second half brightly and should have been level when Rochina weaved his way into the area. From the byline he snuck a backheel into the six-yard box and Mauro Formica took a swing and missed the ball completely.

Robert Huth spurned a good chance to double Stoke's lead when he send a free header wide of the far post after a good cross from Matthew Etherington, but soon enough the Potters punished Rovers for that Formica miss.

As the hour mark approached Etherington motored to the byline and pulled the ball back into the area. Jonathan Walters laid it off for Whelan, whose drilled low shot appeared to be covered by Robinson, but it took a big deflection en route to goal and looped over the helpless keeper.

Crouch put the result beyond doubt on 72 minutes via a classic route one effort that Blackburn failed to deal with and the former Tottenham striker slid a neat finish underneath Robinson for his fifth goal of the season and his fifth in his last five league games against Rovers.

Rochina added a touch of class to an otherwise rugged affair when he lashed a left-footed strike into the near top corner from the edge of the box with four minutes remaining.

Sorensen could do nothing about that, but when Rochina struck another quality effort from range in injury time the Danish goalkeeper was equal to it, making a fine diving save.

Despite having his contract revised by his employers earlier in the week, Kean's job would appear to hinge on Blackburn's performances over the next four games, at best. Following home games against Swansea, West Brom and Bolton and a trip to Sunderland, Rovers then have a Boxing Day trip to Anfield and a New Year's Eve visit to Old Trafford to look forward to.

Tony Mabert - on Twitter @tony_mabert / Eurosport

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