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  Wednesday, 18 September, 2002, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Rovers held by CSKA
Corrado Grabbi (centre)
Grabbi (centre) celebrates his leveller for Blackburn
Blackburn 1-1 CSKA Sofia
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Blackburn had striker Corrado Grabbi to thank for finishing level in their first leg, first round Uefa Cup tie against CSKA Sofia.

Rovers had home advantage at Ewood Park but went behind through a Velizar Dimitrov strike mid-way through the first half.

Grabbi equalised with a low shot five minutes later and, despite Blackburn showing the greater urgency, they could not conjure up a winner to take into the return leg in Bulgaria.

CSKA's Aleksandar Tomovski is given his marching orders

CSKA also had Aleksandar Tomovski sent-off for two yellow cards after 75 minutes.

Blackburn had put the visitors under pressure in search of an early goal and were almost rewarded after a step-over from Craig Hignett released Dwight Yorke on goal.

But the out-of-touch striker pulled his shot disappointingly wide before having to go off injured and replaced by Keith Gillespie.

A defensive-minded CSKA's first real attack on goal came when Portuguese midfielder Joao Paulo Brito found space on the right.


We had a lot of possession and didn't do too much with it
Blackburn manager Graeme Souness

He then found Velizar Dimitrov who failed to apply the finishing touch from 12 yards.

But the counter-attacking play of the visitors put them into the lead after 22 minutes with Dimitrov making up for his earlier miss.

He passed Blackburn's Lucas Neill and powered a shot inside the far post.

Neil Danns (left) is challenged by CSKA's Velizar Dimitrov
Neil Danns (left) made his first-team debut for Rovers

CSKA's lead lasted barely five minutes with Italian Grabbi seizing on a mistake by Ivanov Galin to slot in a shot off the post.

Neill saw a shot whistle past a post with Blackburn pressing for the lead against their composed opponents.

Blackburn's David Dunn tried to be too fancy on the ball and was dispossessed by Svetoslav Stefanov but scuffed a shot which keeper Brad Friedel gathered.

Neill forced CSKA keeper Stoian Petrov to tip over his headed effort from a Hignett free-kick but a winner eluded Rovers.

Tomovski was sent-off for CSKA with 15 minutes left for a second bookable offence but the home side could not make their extra-man advantage count with a goal.


Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Taylor, Todd, Johansson, Hignett, Tugay, Danns, Dunn, Grabbi, Yorke. Subs: Mahon, Curtis, Gillespie, Ostenstad, Berg, Douglas, Kelly.

CSKA Sofia: Petrov, Georgiev, Gueye, Galin Ivanov, Tomovski, Stefanov, Yanchev, Varbanov, Brito, Mukasi, Dimitrov. Subs: Yanev, Deyanov, Sakiri, Pavlov, Gargarov, Zlatinov, Ivaylo Ivanov.

Referee: Bruno Coue (France)

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Conor McNamara
"Blackburn looked flat-footed"
Blackburn boss Graeme Souness
"We didn't do enough with our possession"
Blackburn's Ciccio Grabbi
"The goal is the first in Europe for me"

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