Conditions at Ewood Park made life difficult for the players
By Jamie Lillywhite
Blackburn salvaged a point against Sunderland despite playing more than half the match with 10 men following the dismissal of defender Chris Samba.
In first-half added time Samba slipped, and having been dispossessed by Danny Welbeck, hauled down the striker on the edge of the area and was sent off.
Earlier, on a wet night, Darren Bent went clean through but his effort was blocked by the agile Paul Robinson.
Bent headed straight at Robinson late on but Rovers deservedly earned a draw.
Prospects for a high-scoring encounter were not good, with only 22 goals between the teams in 14 previous Premier League meetings, and both sides mustering seven apiece in their opening eight games.
Torrential rain sweeping across Ewood Park suggested otherwise, as did the inclusion of Bent, scorer of more than half of Sunderland's Premier League goals since his arrival from Tottenham in the summer of 2009, and declared fit after the groin injury that kept him out of the Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro.
Given the congested bottom half of the table either struggling side could have risen as high as seventh with a victory but there were few efforts on target.
Morten Gamst Pedersen, direct from a free-kick on the right flank, almost surprised Simon Mignolet in the Sunderland goal but the Belgian, preferred to fit-again Scottish international Craig Gordon, tipped over the bar.
Midway through the opening period a slip from Gael Givet allowed Bent to bear down on goal from his shot from 15 yards was smothered by Robinson.
Then in first-half stoppage time there was another stumble from a Blackburn defender, this time Samba, and it resulted in a red card.
Following the much-fabled attack on the physical nature of Blackburn, among other clubs, from
Fulham's Danny Murphy
it was not a malicious challenge from the Congolese centre-half, he merely lost his footing on the slippery turf and dragged down Welbeck after the on-loan Manchester United striker seized upon the opportunity to pounce.
Referee Lee Probert, having consulted his linesman, correctly applied the letter of the law in dismissing the giant Samba, and was also right to award a free-kick on the edge of the area where the first contact was made, but Blackburn suffered no further loss as the resulting set piece was blocked by the wall and Bent dragged an effort resulting from the loose ball a yard wide.
After the break Bent, looking short of match sharpness, headed an inviting right-wing cross from Ahmed Elmohamady badly wide, and with a mistake looking increasingly likely to settle the contest Mignolet fumbled a long ball and was relieved to see Titus Bramble hack clear.
Bent was again in the thick of the action when he latched on to a loose ball and Robinson needed to time his sliding tackle to perfection, but the astute Steed Malbranque was quick to collect and lobbed a delicate effort narrowly off target.
Sunderland's record £13m signing Asamoah Gyan was introduced midway through the half and headed an early half chance over.
Understandably attacking options were more limited for Blackburn following the loss of Samba but they substitute Benjani should have done better with a shot on the turn that sailed high, wide and not at all handsome.
As the game continued to fluctuate Robinson needed to be at full stretch to keep out a fine 20-yard curling effort from Gyan, while substitute Boudewijn Zenden fizzed a drive narrowly wide and Bent should have given the goalkeeper more of a test from only six yards out as Sunderland finished strongly.
Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce: "It feels like a win for us.
"There wasn't much going on between both sides in the first half, there were only half chances apart from Bent going clean through. Paul Robinson pulled off a very, very good save. That, we felt, was the turning point.
"The other turning point was the sending off. We can't criticise the referee for that because he's through on goal, I'm just thankful that the assistant referee got it right that it was outside the box when he could easily have given a penalty.
The re-organisation at half-time worked exceptionally well for us and we limited Sunderland to very few chances indeed. It was a great point in the end."
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce: "We can't keep relying on Benty to score us a goal and that was a bit evident tonight. Normally he might have taken two or three chances - that's what he's been doing for us for the last 18 months - but we've got to contribute and come up with some goals from somewhere else.
"It was frustrating - we've had enough attempts on goal but really we should be taking one of the chances we created.
"Blackburn were arguably better with 10. It was an even contest up until then. We've created enough chances. On another day we'd take one of them. Unfortunately that is our Achilles heel.
"There were a lot of positive points. We are young, we are a bit naive, we were a bit naïve with 10-15 minutes to go. We tried to force things a little bit too early but the signs are good."
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