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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 October 2005, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Liverpool 1-0 Blackburn
Liverpool's Peter Crouch, Blackburn's Zura Khizanishvili and Djibril Cisse of Liverpool
Djibril Cisse put months of frustration behind him to guide Liverpool to victory over 10-man Blackburn.

A peripheral figure at Anfield for much of this season Cisse rifled a free-kick past Brad Friedel on 75 minutes.

Blackburn were a man short for nearly an hour after Zura Khizanishvili was red-carded for bringing down Cisse on the edge of the box.

Boudewijn Zenden hit the bar after the Georgian was dismissed, but Blackburn thereafter defended superbly.

So much so that before Friedel was finally beaten by Cisse Blackburn's American goalkeeper barely had a save to make as Liverpool laboured to penetrate the visitors' defence.

Blackburn were also aided by some poor Liverpool finishing with Peter Crouch, Cisse and Fernando Morientes all cupable of some glaring misses.

The Spaniard, who came on as a substitute for Crouch, was guilty of three glaring misses as the Blackburn defence tired.

Before Khizanishvili's dismissal Liverpool had created plenty of chances but their decision making all too often proved awry.

Mohamed Sissoko's skill on the ball opened up the Blackburn defence but he opted to shoot when a pass to Boudewijn Zenden might have proved more productive.

Likewise Cisse tried an ambitious bicycle kick from Xabi Alonso's driven corner when he could just as easily have headed the ball.

Consigned to the bench for much of this season, Cisse always troubled the Blackburn defence with his power and speed.

Unfortunately for Liverpool the Frenchman's enthusiasm was not matched by his finishing, which was all too hasty in its execution.

Before his goal his best chance came midway through the second half when he lazily put the ball wide after he had been gloriously set up by Luis Garcia.

In an open start Blackburn were equally eager to press forward and Stephen Warnock, Djimi Traore and Alonso all made important blocking tackles.

But Khizanishvili's sending off saw Blackburn retreat into a defensive shell.

The Georgian brought down Cisse just outside the penalty area and referee Mark Halsey brandished the red card after deciding Khizanishvili had denied the Frenchman a goalscoring opportunity.

Blackburn were almost punished for a second time when from the resulting free-kick Zenden's curling shot skimmed the top of the crossbar.

Now at a numerical disadvantage to Liverpool, Blackburn withdrew striker Paul Dickov, introducing defender Andy Todd.

Blackburn might have been incensed by Khizanishvili's sending off but just before the hour the visitors were fortunate not to concede a penalty when Tugay clearly brought down Warnock in the box.

With a quarter-of-an-hour to go Cisse ended Liverpool's frustrations capitalising on Savage's foul on Zenden just outside the area.

Alonso touched the ball to Cisse, who arrowed a low right-footed shot past Friedel.

The game began to open up and Shefki Kuqi might have equalised for Blackburn after he evaded Liverpool's offside trap, while Morientes missed two more glorious chances.

  • Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez on his relationship with Djibril Cisse:
    "We shook hands, we are both professionals.

    "He worked hard, scored the goal and got us the win.

    "And for him, after he broke his leg at Blackburn last season, this was a better outcome."

  • Blackburn boss Mark Hughes on Khizanishvili's dismissal:
    "There were players getting back and the referee needs to look at the decision because he has affected the outcome - we will appeal.

    "If we don't appeal we will lose him and also Lucas Neill at right-back, and that's our cover taken out in one go.

    "It was hard to take, we started the game brightly and were the more dominant."

    Liverpool: Reina, Josemi (Luis Garcia 60), Carragher, Traore, Warnock (Riise 74), Finnan, Sissoko, Alonso, Zenden, Crouch (Morientes 66), Cisse.
    Subs Not Used: Hamann, Carson.

    Goals: Cisse 75.

    Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Khizanishvili, Nelsen, Gray, Bentley, Tugay (Mokoena 67), Savage, Pedersen (Emerton 67), Dickov (Todd 35), Kuqi.
    Subs Not Used: Enckelman, Reid.

    Sent Off: Khizanishvili (33).

    Booked: Bentley, Neill, Savage.

    Att: 44,697.

    Ref: M Halsey (Lancashire).

    Interview: Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez

    Interview: Liverpool's Djibril Cisse

    Interview: Blackburn boss Mark Hughes


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