Blackburn 3-0 Pompey
Sunday 25-02-07, 3pm
Pompey travelled to Lancashire this afternoon to face a team many thought could be deflated following their European exit during the week, this proved wrong as Blackburn ran out comfortable winners 3-0 (it should have been worse!)
With Pedro Mendes fit to return with his injury from Joey Barton's horrendous challenge last time out not as bad as first thought. The only change from the win over Man City saw Linvoy Primus return from injury, coming in for Djimi Traore.
A disappointing afternoon saw Blackburn ahead inside of sixty seconds through Shabani Nonda, the same man put them two up inside twenty five. Stephen Warnock added a third early in the second half before Nonda saw a penalty saved by David James.
Both sides would have been looking to make a good start to put the opponent on the back foot as both sides needed to win really to help their European hopes. And it was Blackburn that got the dream start scoring with the first attack of the game. David Bentley's cross was misjudged by Sol Campbell and his header failed to find David James allowing Shabani Nonda to volley into the corner of the net with less than a minute played.
Pompey were stunned and before we could recover James had to save from Matt Derbyshire's 25-yard effort to prevent the score moving to two - nil in Blackburn's favour with less than three minutes played!
Our first effort came shortly after Derbyshire's, Lomana LuaLua attempting a free kick which was saved by Brad Friedel. We would have to wait another fifteen minutes before another chance, again from LuaLua and again from range but he could only shot wide this time.
Twenty five minutes in and things went from bad to worse. Again confusion at the back between James and Noe Pamarot this time allowed Nonda to nip in to tuck home. A tough job was made even harder, this molehill to climb had suddenly become a mountain but at least we had time...didn't we!
Blackburn had a further effort through Aaron Mokoena but he shot wide with Pompey limited to efforts from range, both also wide of the target from Matty Taylor and LuaLua once again as half time came round with Pompey needing something special in the second half to rescue even a point.
Blackburn were forced into a change at half time with Chris Samba having to be replaced by Zurab Khizanishvili while Harry Redknapp acted in the hope of rescuing this game, off came Noe Pamarot and Sean Davis on came Niko Kranjcar and Kanu.
Any hopes of a Pompey fight back were ended five minutes after the break, Stephen Warnock started a move, kept going and popped up to drive past James from within the area. 3-0 to play and still 40 minutes to play!
I always thought that Pedro Mendes and Tugay would play vital parts for their clubs today with both instrumental to each, it was the veteran Tugay who put in a fine display to over shadow his younger rival. Mendes had to be removed ten minutes into the second half allowing Arnold Mvuemba to come in for his Pompey debut.
Nothing was being created; Blackburn looked the hungrier and the team most likely to score more. Indeed James had to save from former Pompey loanee Jason Roberts but then hauled down the otherwise quiet Morten Gamst Pedersen to give Blackburn a penalty. Nonda placed the ball on the spot looking for a hat trick but James guessed the right way to turn the ball away to safety.
Apart from Campbell and Andrew Cole headers, neither of which troubled Friedel it just wasn't happening for Pompey and but from James tipping Roberts' fierce 25-yard drive around the post it would have been 4-0 with time still to play, with James also having to deny Nonda again, tipping his effort over to once again deny him that hat trick he wanted.
Blackburn avenged their opening day 3-0 defeat with a 3-0 victory of their own (also seeing their striker denied a hat trick by having a penalty saved as Kanu had been on that August afternoon) to get their European hopes back on track putting a massive dent in our own.
Another disappointing away day sees Pompey lose to a side challenging for a European place that were seemingly hungrier for this game. We didn't help ourselves at times aiding with most of the goals. The long break we had, the amount of games Blackburn have played recently, the fact that they went out of Europe in the week were all thought to be in our favour. It didn't prove so.
Following Everton's win on Saturday this game was even more important for both. Luckily Bolton lost however Spurs won as a result to put more pressure on us. With Chelsea next up, followed immediately by Reading four points at least is a must!
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Blackburn 3 - Shabani Nonda 1 & 25, Stephen Warnock 50
Noe Pamarot (Niko Kranjcar 45)
Sean Davis (Kanu 45)
Pedro Mendes (Arnold Mvuemba 55)
Substitutes Not Used