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banner Tuesday, 22 January, 2002, 21:41 GMT
Rovers clinch final date
Mattt Jansen
Jansen celebrates putting Rovers ahead
Blackburn 4-2 Sheffield Wednesday

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Sheffield Wednesday's spirited Worthington Cup run came to an end at Ewood Park as Blackburn clinched their first major cup final appearance since 1960.

Goals from Matt Jansen, Damien Duff, Andy Cole and Craig Hignett sealed Rovers' passage through to a final against either Chelsea or Tottenham at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on 24 February.

With a 2-1 advantage from the first leg at Hillsborough, two goals in three minutes before half-time effectively killed off Wednesday's resistance.

  Key moments:
34 mins: Jansen opens scoring
37 mins: Duff makes it 2-0
52 mins: Flitcroft sent off
54 mins: Ekoku replies for Wednesday
82 mins: Cole makes it 3-1
85 mins: Soltvedt heads Wednesday's second
88 mins: Hignett makes it 4-2

Jansen stabbed home the first from a Hignett corner after 34 minutes, before Duff beat Wednesday debutant keeper Paul Heald with an angled drive to make it 4-1 on aggregate.

Blackburn were reduced to ten men early in the second half when captain Garry Flitcroft was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Trond Egil Soltvedt. The resulting scrap also saw Andy Cole and Ashley Westwood booked.

And Wednesday were given hope when Nissa Johansson was adjudged to have handled and Efan Ekoku dispatched the penalty to make it 2-1, 4-2 on aggregate.

But Cole, after twice wasting good chances in the second half, put the issue beyond doubt when he fired home after playing a neat one-two with Duff nine minutes from time.

Soltvedt headed home a second for Wednesday after 85 minutes, but Hignett sealed a 6-3 aggregate win two minutes from time with Rovers' fourth, his fifth in six matches.

With both his two senior goalkeepers injured, Wednesday manager Terry Yorath was forced to hand an instant debut to Heald, only signed on loan from Wimbledon earlier in the day.

Heald, third choice at the Dons, had not featured in a senior game since September, but was alert early on to twice deny the dangerous Jansen.

Damien Duff
Duff put Rovers two goals to the good

Wednesday's best hope of denting the home side's confidence lay with Gerald Sibon, who screwed his first effort wide after Martin Taylor had carelessly given the ball away.

But the Dutchman brought a brilliant save from Brad Friedel after 26 minutes, the American keeper beating away a fiercely struck 20-yard drive.

Jansen opened the scoring after 34 minutes when he reacted quickest to stab the ball into the roof of the net after Taylor's prodded effort from a corner had come back off a post.

Jansen should have added a second a minute later when he shot wide when clean through, and Hignett headed narrowly over before Blackburn doubled their lead in the 37th minute.

Turkish midfielder Tugay held the ball up intelligently before playing in Duff, whose angled drive beat Heald into the far corner.

Blackburn: Friedel, Curtis, Taylor, Johansson, Bjornebye, Flitcroft, Tugay, Hignett, Duff, Jansen (Mahon 61), Cole.
Subs Not Used: Berg, Hughes, Grabbi, Kelly.
Sent Off: Flitcroft (53).
Booked: Hignett, Cole, Mahon.
Goals: Jansen 35, Duff 37, Cole 82, Hignett 88.

Sheff Wed: Heald, Haslam, Bromby, Westwood, Geary (O'Donnell 71), Hamshaw (Bonvin 45), Soltvedt, McLaren, Quinn, Sibon, Ekoku.
Subs Not Used: Donnelly, Maddix, Roberts.
Booked: Haslam, Westwood, Ekoku, Geary.
Goals: Ekoku 59 pen, Soltvedt 85.

Agg: (6-3)
Att: 26,844

Ref: M Riley (Leeds)

BBC Sport's Dave Woods
"Not since 1960 have Blackburn made it to the a major final"
Blackburn boss Graham Souness
"I'm just relieved after that match"
Blackburn's Craig Hignett
"We made hard work of it in the second half"
Links to more Worthington Cup stories are at the foot of the page.


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