Bohinen busts Forest's dam

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers 7

Shearer 20, 57, 68, Bohinen 28, 76,

Newell 82, Le Saux 89

Nottingham Forest 0

Attendance: 27,660

FOREST surrendered their 25-match unbeaten record in the Premiership in the most unpalatable manner imaginable, with the player they lost to Rovers, Lars Bohinen, prominent in their spectacular downfall.

Although Alan Shearer scored three goals to bring his total to 18 for the season and ensure Forest's first League defeat since April, that was a case of him doing what has come to be expected of him at Blackburn. It is Bohinen who has added an unexpected flavour to the Ewood bill of fare since his controversial and cut-price move from Nottingham.

The Norwegian has brought a much-needed fresh note of invention to Blackburn's approach play that had them at last looking yesterday like reigning champions. Apart from being involved in most of their best work, he also scored two handsome goals. Small wonder that he was the subject of constant and noisy vilification from Forest fans who have forgotten what it is like to return home pointless.

They can point to mitigating features of yesterday's crushing defeat, starting with the absence of the injured Bryan Roy and continuing with the loss during the game of Colin Cooper and Jason Lee. They also had efforts cleared off the line by David Batty and Colin Hendry and had Steve Chettle sent off when they were already 3-0 down.

Even that chronicle of woe does not begin to explain how completely their proud record disintegrated once confronted by a Blackburn side rediscovering its self-belief.

The rout began after 19 minutes, two of Shearer's traditional suppliers doing their jobs perfectly when Stuart Ripley crossed for Mike Newell to head down. Shearer delayed his shot almost casually, waiting to obtain a clear view of the far corner, into which he directed the ball unerringly.

Shearer's glorious turn and telepathic flick-on at the end of a flowing move gave Bohinen the invitation to hammer home his first. Ray Harford, Rovers' manager, was delighted with that one. "It was terrific because there must have been 15 passes in the build up," he enthused.

Bohinen was partly responsible for Blackburn's third goal, his clever ball to Jeff Kenna forcing Forest to concede a corner, which was floated over in vintage style by Ripley for the unmarked Shearer to head in unstoppably.

Chettle's foul on Shearer, a second booking after a tackle on Newell from behind in the first half, not only brought his departure but also Shearer's hat-trick, with a fiercely driven free kick that Mark Crossley should nevertheless have stopped by his post.

"You'll never score for England" the Forest fans had been chanting, although by this stage they must have wished he would save more of his goals for country rather than club.

Another Shearer free-kick, curled in and not cleared properly, allowed Bohinen to inflict further punishment on his old club with a powerful shot from an angle to the left. Newell got a well-deserved goal, tapping in when Crossley failed to hold Shearer's low cross and with everyone, even the notoriously goal-shy Batty and Ripley, threatening to get in on the act, Graham Le Saux put in the seventh from 35 yards via the underside of the crossbar in the last minute.

It was as though a dam, painstakingly constructed over 25 matches, had burst and Forest had simply been washed away without trace.

As Harford pointed out, it was a fitting celebration to mark the official opening of the rebuilt Ewood Park made possible by Jack Walker. "On a special day for Jack, the lads put on a special performance," he said.

None more so than Bohinen. "He is a quality, running, attacking midfield player who can also pass the ball," Harford said. "Some of his passes today were terrific. Since he has been at our place, he has helped to lift everybody."

For Frank Clark, it was, he admitted, a case of everything that could go wrong going wrong in his heaviest defeat as a manager and not exactly the ideal preparation for Tuesday's Uefa Cup date with Lyon. "I just hope we get home safely tonight," he said. "It was that sort of day for us.

"I don't think our keeper made a single save," he added. "It was a bad effort. We made some errors; the first two goals were bad goals, then we nearly got one back but gave Alan Shearer a free header.

"The fourth goal went through the keeper's hands and when we were 3-0 down with 10 men we were still trying to go and win the game.

"We were bombing forward and they kept hitting us on the break with six against three or seven against four and it finished up a real hammering."

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