Blackburn revel in the old and new

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The Independent Online

Blackburn Rovers 7 Nottingham Forest 0

On the day they celebrated Jack Walker's rebuilding of their ground, Blackburn Rovers began to rebuild their Premiership season, demolishing Forest's pretensions along the way.

As the side that had compiled a 25-match unbeaten record in the League, Forest were as unrecognisable as Ewood Park would be to anyone visiting after a five-year gap.

The official opening, performed inevitably by generous Uncle Jack on Saturday, also marked Rovers' return to form reminiscent of their rise at the start of the decade rather than their fall from grace this season.

The resounding victory that took them into the top half of the table for the first time as defending champions hinged on elements old and new.

The new was Lars Bohinen, the Scandinavian whose defection scandalised Forest and who has done so much to rejuvenate Rovers. His imagination and incisiveness were such that he would have been a sound choice as man of the match even without two splendidly struck goals.

"I never comment on opposing players," said the Forest manager, Frank Clark. His thoughts, comparing Bohinen's contribution in midfield with his ineffectual five-man phalanx - including England's midweek hero, Steve Stone - could be guessed easily enough.

The familiar factors underlying Blackburn's rediscovered potency naturally included Alan Shearer, with three goals and an outstanding all-round display. That excellence has been a constant, however, even during Rovers' darkest days this season. The difference now is that he is getting the service he deserves, not just from Bohinen, but also from two of his old providers.

The quality of Stuart Ripley's crosses is still variable, but he is moving like a thoroughbred once more. If one centre fails to find its target, another will be along shortly.

Another vital ingredient was Mike Newell. Chris Sutton, kicking his heels on the bench, must have wondered how much good he could have done for his confidence if he had been let loose. Newell, though, is what Blackburn need at the moment; a player who feels no need to demonstrate multi-million pound credentials, but who knows his job and does it.

His goal might have been a gift from Mark Crossley - a goalkeeper who, as his manager rather unkindly pointed out, never made a save - but it was one he thoroughly deserved for all his unselfish work earlier. Clark was almost as unsympathetic towards Steve Chettle, sent off for what he rightly described as "two silly challenges".

Forest were already well on their way to a pre-Uefa Cup humiliation by then, leaving Rovers to reflect, on the eve of what is now an academic exercise in Moscow, on what might have been if they had rediscovered this sort of form a few weeks ago.

Goals: Shearer (20) 1-0; Bohinen (28) 2-0; Shearer (57) 3-0; Shearer (68) 4-0; Bohinen (76) 5-0; Newell (82) 6-0; Le Saux (89) 7-0.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers; Kenna, Berg, Hendry, Le Saux; Ripley, Sherwood, Bohinen, Batty; Newell, Shearer. Substitutes not used: Sutton, Warhurst, Mimms (gk).

Nottingham Forest (4-5-1): Crossley; Lyttle, Chettle, Cooper (Phillips, 30), Pearce; Stone, Gemmill, Bart-Williams, Haaland, Woan; Lee (Silenzi, 50). Substitute not used: McGregor.

Referee: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees).