Friedel howler gifted hosts the openerBlackburn Rovers returned to winning ways on Sunday afternoon after running out 2-0 winners over Aston Villa at Ewood Park.
After a first half that neither side managed to get hold of, Morten Gamst Pedersen’s free-kick from the right caused Brad Friedel problems and flew past him to gift Rovers the lead, before the Norwegian winger grabbed his second after steering the ball home from a corner to secure the victory.
Jason Roberts earned a recall to the starting line-up in the place of Nikola Kalinic for the hosts, while David Dunn and El-Hadji Diouf also started as Sam Allardyce reverted back to his preferred 4-5-1 formation.
Villa, meanwhile, were without a number of first-team players, which meant youngsters Ciaran Clark, Barry Bannan and Jonathan Hogg all started. Gabriel Agbonlahor also started despite concerns over his fitness, while new signing Robert Pires had to settle for a place on the bench.
Just a minute after Blackburn had the chance to have a crack at goal from a Samba free-kick, Villa broke upfield and Stewart Downing had an opportunity to score the opener. Ireland played a lovely flick into his path and, after escaping Gael Givet, the England winger was thwarted by Robinson, who turned the ball away.
Moments later Stephen Warnock, playing against his former club, stormed through the centre of the pitch and looked to find Agbonlahor on the edge of the area, but was stopped in his tracks by Ryan Nelsen, who put in a last-ditch block to clear the danger. Bannan then picked up the loose ball but could only flash his left-footed effort wide.
There was a comical moment in the first half as Givet clattered into the referee as he looked to win the ball and fell over, prompting large sections of the crowd to boo as play was allowed to continue. Ashley Young worked his way into the penalty area but couldn’t put his side ahead as Robinson was there once again to palm the ball away.
Blackburn then caused problems of their in the Villa six-yard box following good work from David Hoilett down the left, but the visitors broke on the counter-attack. Ashley Young whipped in a cross and found the head of Ireland, but the unmarked Irishman could only direct his effort wide.
As the two sides looked to be going into the break goalless, the usually unflappable Friedel gifted the hosts the opener.
Pedersen’s free-kick from the right curled all the way to the far post and looked set to be claimed by the American. However, he couldn’t get hold of it and the ball slipped past him and into the net.
After replacing Givet at half-time, Chimbonda had work to do just a minute into the second half as Villa searched for the equaliser.
Downing managed to find space down the right wing to clip in a great cross to the onrushing Ashley Young. The winger beat Robinson only to find his header rattle the crossbar before coming back into play.
The match was becoming stretched and it was end to end stuff as Blackburn went on the counter.
Roberts fed the ball through to El-Hadji Diouf and, after racing past Clark, the Senegal international fluffed his lines and could only fire straight at Friedel.
Rovers soon began to take control of the game and doubled their advantage.
A corner from the left caused all sorts of problems in the area and, after the visitors failed to clear, Pedersen was there to turn the ball in from close range.
El-Hadji Diouf had another great chance to treble Rovers' advantage but could only head wide at the far post. Gerard Houllier then responded by bringing on new signing Pires for his debut, while Goulon came on to make his debut for the hosts.
Neither side’s substitutes managed to make much of an impact, as Bannan’s late effort was the last major chance of the game, meaning a perfect start for Blackburn's new ownership as Sam Allardyces' men moved up to 11th in the table and four points clear of the relegation zone.
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