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18:30 21st April 2012


GOALS from Mauro Formica and Junior Hoilett either side of half-time were enough to secure Blackburn the victory over City at Ewood Park as they maintained their fight to stay in the Premier League.

In an even first half both sides had opportunities to score, but it was Rovers who went into the break ahead when Formica drilled home a Morten Gamst Pedersen cross on 40 minutes. Both Grant Holt and Jonny Howson had tested Paul Robinson in the Blackburn goal but the game slipped further away from City when Hoilett scored almost a carbon copy of his strike at Carrow Road earlier in the season - working the ball across the edge of the area and curling a delightful effort into the top corner.

City boss Paul Lambert commented on his side's performance: "We never really got going," he said. "I thought we had a lot of the ball in the first half and had one or two chances but one cross takes five of us out and it's a poor goal from our point of view.

"We were still in the game but they score again and I thought we should have done better because you can't run alongside somebody and let them shoot, not at this level of football. But like I said last week we'll pick ourselves up and go again."

Lambert made three changes to his side after last week's 6-1 defeat to title-chasing Manchester City.

A big surprise on the teamsheet was the name of striker James Vaughan partnering Grant Holt up front - the former Everton man's last appearance coming in City's FA Cup defeat to Leicester back in February. Andrew Surman and Wes Hoolahan made a return to the midfield with Bradley Johnson and Anthony Pilkington named on the bench.

In the Blackburn squad were their top scorer Yakubu who had recovered from a knee knock and Junior Hoilett - both players scoring in the sides' meeting back in October - Grant Holt securing a point for the Canaries with an injury-time penalty conversion to make it 3-3.

In the opening minute of the game Vaughan won the Canaries their first corner and Surman whipped the ball in which Holt met but got under it and headed high over the goal.

It was a bright start from the visitors and again two minutes later Holt had a shot blocked as the ball was pingingin and around the Rovers' box.

In the sixth minute Blackburn's first attack required Russell Martin to head away from Morten Gamst Pedersen who was lurking at the far post.

Paul Robinson then had to be alert as Holt had another attempt on goal getting down low to deny the City skipper. Surman then raced to collect a half clearance in the box and cut the ball back to find Vaughan in space but he miskicked and Rovers cleared their lines.

With 20 minutes gone David Dunn's cross into the penalty area was met by Scott Dann and his header just whistled past the City post for a corner.

Ryan Bennett was called upon to make an important interception after Hoilett's dangerous right-wing cross was deflected and parried by Ruddy and the defender did well to clear away.

It was proving an end to end game - Drury's run and cross down the left seeing Holt nearly get on the end of his deep cross at the far post.

On 31 minutes Jonny Howson produced a stinging drive which Robinson did well to tip over the bar as the ball looked to be swerving away from him. From the resulting corner Ryan Bennett headed wide of the target.

Jonny Howson was the first in referee Kevin Friend's notebook after he impeded Mauro Formica from making a break from midfield.

Holt again came close on 37 minutes getting on the end of Elliott Bennett's cross into the six-yard box but couldn't get his header on target.

Rovers should have been ahead just a minute later when Yakubu tried an audacious overhead kick which agonisingly hit the post and John Ruddy raced to collect the ball.

But they were ahead with five minutes of the half to play - Yakubu was found in space down the left and laid the ball off for Pedersen to whip in a great cross to the far post where Mauro Formica was waiting unmarked to drill his shot underneath Ruddy for 1-0.

The Canaries had a free-kick awarded on 44 minutes after Drury was tripped about 20 yards out but Surman's delivery couldn't quite find Holt or Ryan Bennett who were waiting at the far post and City went in a goal down at the break.

: Blackburn Rovers 1, Norwich City 0

Both teams were unchanged as they came out for the second half.

And four minutes in Rovers had extended their lead - in similar fashion from the October encounter Junior Hoilett ran across the edge of the box and curled in a great effort into the top right-hand corner of the goal giving Ruddy no chance.

Rovers had the wind in their sails and were continuing to press, when a Canary attack was broken down, Hoilett made a run and placed a searching ball across City's penalty area narrowly missing finding Yakubu who had made a run into the box.

Paul Lambert made a double substitution on 59 minutes Steve Morison replaced Vaughan and Pilkington came on for Hoolahan. This was swiftly followed by a change by Steve Kean, Martin Olsson replacing David Dunn.

City's first half endeavour seemed to have waned with Rovers second goal and the Canaries final change came on 66 minutes Aaron Wilbraham coming on for Grant Holt.

On 71 minutes Anthony Pilkington twisted and turned managing to create himself some space for a shot, which went across the area and narrowly behind Wilbraham and well wide of the goal.

Wilbraham had a shot saved by Robinson after he gathered a knock-on from Morison and he went close again from the resulting corner - Ryan Bennett initially met the flag kick with a volley which was going just wide of the post and Wilbraham flung himself and nearly connected with any touch surely diverting it into the back of the net.

Another change for Blackburn saw Modeste come on for Yakubu and the striker had a header deflected over the bar after he got on the end of a Pedersen corner after only being on the pitch for four minutes.

With nothing to lose Elliott Ward was moved forward into attack for the final seven minutes of the game, but by this time the game had petered out in terms of any contest with Rovers seeing out the game for 2-0 to give them hopes of Premier League survival heading into the final three games of the season.

Final score
: Blackburn Rovers 2, Norwich City 0

: Robinson, Givet, Dunn (Martin Olsson 62), Formica, Gamst Pedersen, Dann, Orr, Marcus Olsson, Hoilett (Petrovic 83), Yakubu (Modeste 76), Lowe. Subs not used: Kean, Nznonzi, Rochina, Goodwillie.
: Ruddy, Martin, Drury, Vaughan (Morison 59), Holt (Wilbraham 66), Surman, Hoolahan (Pilkington 59), E. Bennett, Ward, Howson, R. Bennett. Subs not used: Steer, Johnson, Fox, Naughton.

    Data provided by Press Association


    Did you know Norwich City Football Club have appeared in three Wembley cup finals?