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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 20:58 GMT 21:58 UK
Blackburn hold Liverpool
Blackburn celebrate David Dunn's opener
Blackburn celebrate David Dunn's opener
Blackburn Rovers 2-2 Liverpool

Blackburn Rovers' Italian misfit Corrado Grabbi emerged from his Ewood Park nightmare with a rare goal to rob Liverpool of a place on the Premiership summit.

Liverpool looked to be on course to overhaul Arsenal at the top of the table when John Arne Riise gave Gerard Houllier's side the lead late on.

But substitute Grabbi's thumping header eight minutes from time gave Blackburn a deserved point in a thrilling encounter, wrecking Liverpool's 100% record.

David Dunn put Blackburn ahead early on, but Liverpool hit back through Danny Murphy to set the stage for a grandstand finish.

  Key moments
15 mins Dunn steers home Duff's cross for Blackburn's opener
30 Murphy equalises from Xavier's cross
76 Smicer crosses for Riise to put Liverpool ahead
82 Substitute Grabbi scores to give Blackburn a point

Blackburn boss Souness was sent to the stands by referee Steve Dunn for foul and abusive language after a bust-up with the official - but nothing could mar his satisfaction with his side's comeback.

Liverpool's traditionally miserly defence had not been breached this season - but it took Blackburn only 15 minutes to break the deadlock.


Sending me off was the only thing the referee got right all night
Blackburn manager Graeme Souness

Damien Duff, subject of a rejected 9m offer from Liverpool, demonstrated why he is so admired inside Anfield by creating the goal.

He escaped the attentions of Abel Xavier, and when Andy Cole stepped over his driven cross, Dunn took a touch before beating Jerzy Dudek.

And Cole could have doubled Blackburn's advantage two minutes later, but Dudek blocked at his near post.

Sami Hyypia heads clear

Dudek was then relieved to see a long-range shot from Yorke drift wide after the goalkeeper's headed clearance fell at the feet of the former Manchester United striker.

Liverpool struggled early on, but a period of domination ended with a beautifully worked equaliser from Murphy on the half hour.

Murphy's flick released Xavier on the right, and the England midfield man was in position to receive his cross and steer an emphatic finish beyond Brad Friedel.


It would have been good to hold on, but we have improved with every game this season
Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier

Michael Owen, still without a goal this season, struggled to make an impact amid the stalemate.

But it was still a major surprise when he was substituted, along with strike partner El-Hadji Diouf, after 63 minutes as Houllier sent on Emile Heskey and Vladimir Smicer.

Houllier's substitution reaped its reward with 14 minutes left as Liverpool took the lead.

Smicer's cross found Riise, and the Norwegian's header looped behind Friedel into the net.

Souness responded with a substitution of his own, and the result was even more spectacular.

Italian Grabbi, who has struggled desperately since his arrival from Ternana at the start of last season, arrived on the end of Dunn's cross just two minutes after coming on to power a brilliant header past Dudek.

The spoils were shared, but Liverpool were left disappointed at their failure to hang on.


Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Short (Grabbi 82), Taylor, Johansson, Dunn, Flitcroft, Tugay, Duff, Yorke, Cole.

Subs Not Used: Hignett, Mahon, Berg, Kelly.

Booked: Cole, Grabbi, Yorke.

Liverpool: Dudek, Xavier, Hyypia, Henchoz, Traore, Murphy, Gerrard, Hamann, Riise (Diao 87), Diouf (Smicer 64), Owen (Heskey 64).

Subs Not Used: Carragher, Kirkland.

Booked: Murphy. Attendance: 29,207.

Referee: Steve Bennett (Kent).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Ian Brown
"Damien Duff tortured Xavier down the left"
Blackburn boss Graeme Souness
"We matched them for the will to win"
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"We're scoring plenty of goals from midfield"
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