Rovers record crucial victory despite having 10 men for the majority of the game, meanwhile Fulham continues to struggle on its travels
It looked like it was going to be one of those afternoons for Rovers when profilic striker Yakubu was sent off in the 23rd minute but two goals either side of halftime from Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Dunn and a late strike from substitute Mauro Formica won the game for Steve Kean’s side, despite a Damien Duff strike midway through the second half.
Blackburn boss Kean was able to welcome back four first team players to his starting lineup but it was the absence of Chris Samba that made the biggest statement of the afternoon. The big central defender’s omission fuelled the speculation that he will be leaving the club shortly.
The first moment of real danger came in the 22nd minute when Fulham hit the bar through Bobby Zamora. The England striker rose to meet a right wing cross but saw his unchallenged header strike the bar with Rovers keeper Robinson struggling to get there.
A minute later came the turning point of the game as Yakubu was sent off for a high challenge on Murphy. The Nigerian caught the Fulham midfielder right on his knee with his boot and referee Anthony Taylor branded a straight red card much to the dismay of the home crowd.
With the half coming to a close the visitors thought they had taken the lead from a Murphy free kick but Robinson pulled off a fantastic save to keep the scores level. Philippe Senderos rose to meet the cross but his close range header was superbly clawed away by the Rovers keeper diving high to his right.
After a tough first half the home side finished it the perfect way – with a goal. With the game in injury time at the end of the half Murphy brought down David Dunn on the edge of the penalty and Pedersen confidently stepped up and curled a low left footed shot around the wall and into the bottom corner of the Fulham goal to give his side the lead.
Rovers began the second half in the same way as they finished the first half as they doubled their lead through Dunn in the first minute after the break. Neat build up play down the left saw the ball played in substitute David Goodwillie. The striker searched for an opening and seemed to have taken too long when his shot was blocked by John Arne Riise but the loose ball fell to Dunn and he fired past Stockdale from the edge of the area.
Minutes later Fulham thought it was back in the game but Clint Dempsey’s header was disallowed by the assistant referee for offside. A Riise free kick was parried by Robinson but the ball fell to Dempsey who headed into the empty net but he was flagged offside when replays showed the American was level with the last defender
The visitors did have their goal in the 56th minute and it was former Rovers star Duff who got the goal. Murphy played a lovely ball across the penalty area to find Duff unmarked on the right wing; he pushed the ball past Olsson before firing right footed into the bottom corner giving Robinson no chance.
The home side had played the majority of the second half on the counter attack using the pace of Goodwillie and Hoilett to cause all kinds of problems, and with 11 minutes to go they added that all-important third goal through substitute Mauro Formica. The Argentine was released by a beautiful chipped pass from Steven Nzonzi and he made no mistake from 15 yards, firing low under Stockdale.