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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 March 2006, 16:57 GMT
Blackburn 3-2 Middlesbrough
Craig Bellamy with Rovers team-mates
Bellamy broke the deadlock against Middlesbrough
Two goals from Craig Bellamy helped 10-man Blackburn to victory over battling Middlesbrough.

Bellamy's curler broke the deadlock before Mark Viduka drilled Boro level, but Morten Gamst Pedersen's free-kick gave Rovers a 2-1 half-time lead.

Blackburn midfielder Robbie Savage picked up his first Premiership dismissal for two harsh bookings.

And while Fabio Rochemback's low strike gave Boro hope, Bellamy's fine finish wrapped up the points for Rovers.

Middlesbrough, who had made seven changes to the side that booked their Uefa Cup quarter-finals place in midweek, created the first opening of the game when James Morrison tested Brad Friedel with an early effort.

However, Blackburn, who are chasing a Champions League qualifying spot this season, were quickly into their stride and opened the scoring on 11 minutes when Bellamy's left-foot effort beat the outstretched arm of Mark Schwarzer.

Viduka, though, equalised when he capitalised on poor Blackburn defending to drill a right-shot effort home at Friedel's near post on 16 minutes.

And while Friedel's positioning could have been questioned for Boro's opener, the American goalkeeper performed heroics just a minute later to thwart Viduka doubling his afternoon's tally.

The Australian forward connected powerfully with Fabio Rochemback's corner - only for Friedel to show great athleticism to palm the ball away.

The exciting Premiership clash turned in favour of the hosts again on 27 minutes, who regained the advantage when Pedersen's free-kick from the right flew through a packed penalty box and past a baffled Schwarzer.

But Middlesbrough were not dispirited by going behind twice, giving high-flyers Rovers a run for their money.

Yet while Steve McClaren's men were showing good determination, it was Blackburn that held the edge over their opponents.

Boro gambled at half-time by bringing on three substitutes with Emanuel Pogatetz, Yakubu and Andrew Taylor replacing Ray Parlour, Chris Riggott and Adam Johnson.

Yakubu wasted a good early opening, before Blackburn were harshly punished when Savage received his marching orders for two bookings in two second-half minutes.

Having collected his first yellow for a foul on George Boateng on 52 minutes, Savage was then penalised for hand-ball two minutes later by referee Chris Foy - even though the ball was drilled at him from close-range.

The dismissal galvanised Boro, who went in search of their second, and duly got it when Morrison, with time and space on the right, found Rochemback who drilled in a low effort from 16 yards.

But Bellamy's second of the afternoon - with just over 20 minutes left - restored Rover's lead.

The striker's brilliant angled right-foot shot was too good for Schwarzer.

Blackburn endured a nervy finale, although Boro were unable to create any clear goalscoring chances that could have earned the rejuvenated visitors a share of the honours.

  • Blackburn boss Mark Hughes on Robbie Savage's dismissal: "What happened was very harsh on Robbie.

    "The first booking was a good tackle and the second (his booking for handball) was clearly ball to hand.

    "I spoke to the ref after and he said he had no choice, I beg to differ."

  • Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren: "From the first whistle to the last we defended very poorly, and that has been the bedrock of our recent recovery.

    "We were on the edge of our seats every time Blackburn attacked because we never got to grips with them at all.

    "The quality of our football was simply not good enough."

    Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Khizanishvili, Nelsen, Gray, Emerton (Mokoena 59), Savage, Reid, Pedersen, Sinama-Pongolle (Bentley 72), Bellamy.
    Subs Not Used: Enckelman, Kuqi, Dickov.

    Sent Off: Savage (54).

    Booked: Savage, Reid, Neill.

    Goals: Bellamy 11, Pedersen 28, Bellamy 68.

    Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Davies, Riggott (Pogatetz 45), Ehiogu, Queudrue, Morrison, Parlour (Yakubu 45), Boateng, Rochemback, Johnson (Taylor 45), Viduka.
    Subs Not Used: Jones, Doriva.

    Booked: Pogatetz, Boateng, Queudrue.

    Goals: Viduka 16, Rochemback 62.

    Att: 18,681

    Ref: C Foy (Merseyside).

    Interview: Blackburn manager Mark Hughes

    Saturday's football photos
    18 Mar 06 |  Photo Galleries


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