Bohinen battery

Blackburn Rovers 3 Sherwood 39, Shearer 49, Newell 57 Chelsea 0 Attendance: 27,733
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The Independent Online
EVEN allowing for Chelsea's inadequacies, this was a more than decent performance by Blackburn, who are steadily building a new identity under Ray Harford's tuition. They did everything better than Glenn Hoddle's side - at the back and front, naturally, but even in the areas in between, where not so long ago they regularly appeared fairly clueless. If they carry on looking so slick they will soon find themselves labelled a passing team.

Harford has brought change by taking bold decisions, breaking up the partnership of Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer upon which Kenny Dalglish's success was founded and placing his emphasis on a creative midfield. Sutton spent the whole of this match on the substitute's bench and is likely to stay there as long as Mike Newell holds his form and fitness.

In the new scheme of things the central figure is not a goalscorer but a goalmaker, Harford's bargain signing Lars Bohinen. The Norwegian had the touch and vision that the champions previously lacked, but just as important is the way the other components of Blackburn's midfield work with him. Suddenly, with Tim Sherwood and David Batty linking into smooth triangular interplays with their new partner, Blackburn looked to have the pass-and-move game cracked.

Bohinen's pass set up the first goal for Sherwood from 25 yards and his cross effectively made the third, headed down by Sherwood for Newell to drive home. Bohinen's distribution was impressively accurate but he won his share of tackles too, and almost scored from a sublimely struck first-half volley which forced an excellent save from Dmitri Kharin in the Chelsea goal.

In between, Sherwood slipped Shearer through when an embarrassingly large hole appeared in Chelsea's defence and the England striker accepted the opportunity in clinical style.

It was that goal, four minutes into the second half, that effectively finished Chelsea, who had managed only one shot in the first half and now faced a huge task. The class of Ruud Gullit stood out both as sweeper and when he moved forward into midfield but there was precious little worthwhile support.

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