The dismissal of captain Chris Samba just before the break ended any hopes of a free flowing second half, with Blackburn holding on to claim a 0-0 scoreline against a Sunderland outfit who would be ruing early missed opportunities.
Ryan Nelsen and MB Diouf were left out of the starting line up, with Gael Givet and Nikola Kalinic replacing them respectively
Chris Samba (C)
Morten Gamst Pedersen
El Hadji Diouf
With both teams equal on 8 points, it was expected that very little would seperate both outfits. The fixture started of in heavy rain, with sloppy touches from all involved. It did take approxiately 10 minutes for both teams to adust to the conditions, with long balls running metres too far from the wet turf.
Morten Gamst Pedersen almost snuck one in early for the home team. A free kick from 35 yards out was sweetly struck, with keeper Mignolet making a desperate lunge to tip it over. The ensuing corner saw a repeat corner which was cleared to safety. Good early pressure from Blackburn.
However it was Sunderland who had the best of the early chances, and best chance of the match! A long ball clearance from the Sunderland half totally bamboozled Gael Givet, allowing Bent to bring the ball down in his stride. The English international was through on goal, however Paul Robinson stood his ground, forcing a superb one on one save.
Diouf looked threatening down the left flank, whilst the same could not be said for Emerton, who whilst defending superbly, provided some dreadful deliviries on the right flank.
The game fizzed out until the dying moments of the half. Samba stumbled in the back, with Danny Welbeck through on goal. Samba then stumbled his man, and was correctly sent off by referee Probert after consultation with his assistant. Rovers were down to 10 men, and 0-0 at the break
The second half saw chances few and far between, with Blackburn happily sitting back and hunting on the counter, whilst Sunderland lacking any bite up front. Gyan came on to provide an extra attacking option, whilst Jones dropped into central defence to cover Samba.
Benjani came on for the luckless Kalinic, and it was a welcome back for David Dunn, with Salgado making way and Emerton dropping into right back. Sunderland though should have gone up on the 67th minute, a hacked clearing tackle by Robinson found Malbranque, however his effort floated over the goal. Gyan was next to take shot, however Robinson was up to the task, a blinder of a save.
Benjani then made way after picking up a head injury with MB Diouf coming on. Diouf did show some flair and trickery, but to no avail, 0-0 it finished!
Paul Robinson 8
Gael Givet 5
Will be dissapointed by the number of errors in his game today
Chris Samba 5
Red card, early bath for the Captain
Martin Olsson 6
Rather quiet game, did try to attack on the overlap to no avail
Michel Salgado 7
Used all his experience and wisdom to shut out the Sunderland attack when needed.
Phil Jones 6
Solid game from Jonesy, lacking the final pass
Steve Nzonzi 6
Did what was needed, though should use his strength in attack a bit more
Gamst Pedersen 6
Faded in and out of the game, in the way he does best
El Hadji Diouf 7
Worked his rear end off, a good performance yet again
Brett Emerton 5
Knows he can do much, much better especially with his final delivery
Nikola Kalinic 6
Would of liked to have directed 1 or 2 attempts on target, no luck for the lad