Date: 16th August 2007 at 8:49pm
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It was lethargic, uninspiring and quite dull, but it got a job done. Rovers will leave Finland with a first leg lead courtesy of birthday boy`s full debut strike.

Mark Hughes only made a single change to the starting line-up that strode out at The Riverside on Saturday, replacing the unfit Benni McCarthy with Roque Santa Cruz, giving him his full debut.

On a humid evening in Finland, the air was pricked with anticipation as fans crammed into MyPa`s modest stadium, filling it with colour and noise. However, a deathly silence fell on the ground, interrupted by the echoing cheers of a pocket of blue and white fans chanting to the tune of Santa Cruz as the 26-year-old Paraguayan opened the scoring on six minutes with a crisp finish.

He was released by a neat pass from strike partner Jason Roberts as the gangly forward appeared to have adapted to his colleague`s style of play rather quickly.

It was the early goal manager, Hughes, would have wanted and it went a long way to settle the team. Rovers played a controlled game, keeping possession for long periods and relying on the probing David Dunn and distribution of David Bentley, who resembled an archer elegantly picking out his moving targets with precision.

However, despite Rovers enjoying prolonged periods of possession few clear cut chances were forthcoming. Santa Cruz had a header saved and both David Bentley and David Dunn tried from distance but to no avail.

The hosts seemed content to sit back and stifle and hope to strike lucky with one of their sporadic attacks.

The half petered out with many Rovers fans expecting a second half barrage from the blue and white halves.

However, what followed was a rousing display from MyPa, spurred on by the boisterous home support, who are deceptively noisey.

For a period of ten minutes immediately into the second half Rovers were pegged back and struggled to clear their lines under the assault of disjointed after disjointed attack from the home side.

Cross swirled through the air as players collided in a bid to remain water-tight. However, the energy of the home side soon dwindled and Rovers were once again able to steady the ship. However, both wingers, Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Bentley were all at sea wit their crossing. This created a disjointed passage of play that only changed when Hughes made his first substitution, bringing on Matt Derbyshire for Jason Roberts.

Derbyshire and Santa Cruz linked up well and a few half chances came and went. A double substitution on 72 minutes that saw Tugay and Brett Emerton enter the fray in replace of Dunn and Pedersen respectively, temporarily lifted the tempo, with Emerton looking fresh and enthusiastic.

He latched onto a deft ball laid into his path by Santa Cruz to almost add a second to the score, however, the MyPa`s ‘keeper was quick off his line.

At the back, Ryan Nelsen and Chris Samba were once again looking resolute, with Samba throwing everything into the cause.

However, no further goals were scored giving Rovers a slender advantage ahead of the second tie at Ewood on August 30.

It will do but could have been more and it`s perhaps a slight disappointment that the lads didn`t wrap this one up in the first leg.

Player Ratings

Friedel 6
Literally had nothing to do other than a few catches.

Warnock 7
Supported the attacks and thwarted MyPa’s wide play. Never gives up running.

Ooijer 6
Did little wrong in a confidence inducing display.

Nelsen 8
Commanding through out.

Samba 8
Literally is a wall.

Bentley 6
Decent first half with a full repertoire of passes on show but it all went miserably wrong in the second half.

Gamst 5
Too often disappears.

Savage 7
Energetic and everywhere.

Dunn 7
Looked good controlling the play.

Santa Cruz 8
Movement, touch, panache and a ruthless finish to boot. Not bad for the birthday boy.

Roberts 6
Put himself about as normal. Things aren’t quite falling for him at the moment though.

Derbyshire 7
Looking more and more like the real deal. Confidence is high.

Tugay 7
A passing masterclass upon his appearance.
Will have a big part to play this season and looked fresh here.


14 Replies to “MyPa 0.v.1 Rovers”

  • Cheers for the report. The day we start complaining we’re not winning by enough I’ll eat my own hat…can’t see us losing the second leg now, surely.

  • Maybe we were both saving ourselves for the game this weekend because both of our euro games were some of the boringest football I have ever watched. Hopefully our game will be much better!! You wont be sitting back with a 10 man defense will you?? 🙂

  • We did enough in 1 st gear. We weren’t that inspiring at all but it was an efficent performance and we always looked in control.. I am very confident we will progress now as Mypa dont have it in them to score 2 at Ewood.

  • hatespur, as the guys on here know, I never mind making an apology if I was in the wrong. Right banter it is then. So a comfortable 2-0 win for Rovers? benni coming off the bench to score the decisive winner (sorry to bring back bad memories there Arsenal boys) after Cruz scores AGAIN! That should get the ball rolling.

  • The white Van Man to destroy you again at your gaff imo. Won’t be the first time will it? I hope he has a better celebration up his sleeve this time.

  • 2-1 to Rovers.. we’ll make it tough for you and unlike Fulham if you fail to take your chances we WILL make you pay.

  • Wasn’t pretty was it, but as you rightly say roversman it was job done. We’ll finish the job at Ewood Park in a couple of weeks.
    Right, as for the Gooners, I think it will be a quality game (although I also thought this last season and ended up VERY disappointed with what I witnessed!!!) between to really good sides. Rovers will win 2-1 though.

  • What’s the weather like up there? I’ve been caught out too many times travelling to dark Northern outposts before 🙂 Seriously, here’s to a good game and Arsenal to come back with three points and Morten Gamst (I’ll bundle him back on the train with me if I have to).

  • I’m still very worried about samba’s tendency to launch himself into challenges in the area. Think he’s gonna give away a lot of penalties this season unless he can get a grip on it and stay on his feet a little more. Otherwise he was very solid

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