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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 19:56 GMT
Blackburn 0-0 B L'kusen (agg 2-3)
By Sam Lyon

Benni McCarthy
McCarthy hangs his head after missing a late chance at Ewood
Blackburn endured a frustrating night at Ewood Park as Bayer Leverkusen got the draw they needed to reach the last 16 of the Uefa Cup 3-2 on aggregate.

The hosts troubled Leverkusen all too rarely, although Benni McCarthy saw an early effort deflected wide.

Things improved in the second half but McCarthy prodded wide from Morten Gamst Pedersen's cross, while Shabani Nonda fired their best chance wide late on.

Bernd Schneider hit a post but the visitors' display was mostly defensive.

Blackburn offered reduced-priced tickets for the tie in an attempt to draw the crowd in for the unfriendly 1805 GMT kick-off but, inevitably, fans were still drifting in 25 minutes into the game.

606 DEBATE: Your reaction to Blackburn's exit

Luckily for them, they missed very little as the match limped out of the blocks.

With Leverkusen successfully quelling Rovers' creativity in midfield, McCarthy and Matt Derbyshire were starved of the ball up front and only two well-struck Pedersen free-kicks interrupted a nondescript opening.

When McCarthy did finally get the ball in a dangerous position, Gonzalo Castro deflected his effort narrowly wide after a good spin on the ball 12 yards out, while the defender again came to the rescue to head away David Bentley's fine cross.

However, those were Rovers' best efforts of the half and they were almost punished before the break as Leverkusen finally endeavoured to have a meaningful shot on goal.

Carsten Ramelow celebrates with Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker
Carsten Ramelow celebrates with Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker

Schneider took the free-kick from 20 yards out and his dipping effort glanced the outside of the post before, seconds later, he blasted over the bar when well-placed 16 yards out.

It was a timely scare for Rovers, if one was needed, and they came out for the second half with renewed purpose.

And it was Bentley again who found a delightful cross on to the head of Dunn, the midfielder's downward header bringing a smart save from Hans-Jorg Butt.

But, as time ticked away, the hosts became increasingly desperate and the mood of the fans was not helped when McCarthy contrived to miss from four yards out, prodding Pedesen's brilliant cross wide of goal.

With Leverkusen piling players behind the ball and adopting delaying tactics at every opportunity, Rovers rarely got into their stride with the minutes ebbing away.

Pedersen, Derbyshire and Dunn all had half-chances before the chance of the night came on 85 minutes when substitute Shabani Nonda strode clear but lobbed the ball wide with the goal gaping 16 yards out.

That miss proved crucial as Rovers' late, desperate rally amounted to nothing and the hosts crashed out of Europe.

Leverkusen will now face Lens in the last 16 after the French side beat Panathinaikos 3-1 on aggregate.

Blackburn: Friedel, Khizanishvili (Roberts 86), Nelsen, Warnock, Emerton, Bentley, Dunn, Kerimoglu (Nonda 71), Pedersen, McCarthy, Derbyshire.
Subs Not Used: Enckelman, Henchoz, Gallagher, Peter, Gray.

Booked: Pedersen, Warnock.

Bayer Leverkusen: Butt, Babic, Juan, Haggui (Callsen-Bracker 59), Castro, Ramelow, Rolfes, Freier (Barnetta 73), Barbarez, Schneider, Voronin (Madouni 88).
Subs Not Used: Adler, Stenman, Kiessling, Athirson.

Booked: Juan, Barbarez, Rolfes.

Att: 25,124.

Ref: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain).

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