BLACKBURN 2 vs LIVERPOOL 3
LIVERPOOL manager Kenny Dalglish sidestepped another refereeing row last night after an evening of mixed fortunes saw £35m misfit Andy Carroll snatch a late winner but the Reds’ goalkeeping crisis deepen.
Carroll headed home in injury time to claim his first Premier League goal since January and earn only Liverpool’s second top-flight win in nine, after Yakubu had hauled Blackburn back from two down.
But the win was tainted by the dismissal of goalkeeper Alexander Doni, which leaves Brad Jones, who saved a penalty with his first touch, their only senior stopper for Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final with Everton.
Jones could have seen red too after conceding a penalty of his own, but Dalglish, who strongly criticised refereeing decisions in recent Reds games, dodged the debate.
“We are not going to start talking about contentious decisions which happened on the pitch because I’ve not seen them,” he said. “I’m not trying to be evasive; I’m trying to be practical and factually correct. Once I’ve seen them I’ll be better educated.”
Victory moved eighth-placed Liverpool to within a point of local rivals Everton and denied Blackburn an escape from the relegation zone, where their rivals all now enjoy a game in hand.
Dalglish rested stars Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez with Saturday’s Wembley trip in mind, handing a rare start to Maxi Rodriguez. The midfielder soon made his mark, tapping in twice, from Craig Bellamy’s 13th-minute cross and Carroll’s pass in the 16th, to give the Reds a flying start.
In unfamiliar territory, the visitors promptly capitulated. First, Doni, in for the suspended Pepe Reina, saw red for tripping Junior Hoilett, ushering Jones on for his Liverpool debut. His instant save from Yakubu’s tame penalty proved only temporary respite, however, with the Nigerian left unmarked to head a reply for Rovers 10 minutes before half-time.
Jones might have been dismissed too, leaving Liverpool with no senior goalkeepers, for farcically barging Yakubu to the ground on the hour. He escaped with a booking but could not stop a second spot-kick.
As full-time approached, England outcast Carroll took advantage of defensive chaos by pouncing on Daniel Agger’s flick-on to head his seventh goal of a turbulent season.