Collymore profits from Blackburn's gift of Flowers

Blackburn Rovers 2 Liverpool 3
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The Independent Online
GUY HODGSON

Blackburn Rovers 2 Liverpool 3

It was tempting to wonder what Peter Schmeichel would have done if he had been at Ewood Park on Saturday. Raged King Lear-like at the heavens probably, told the groundsman where he could put his roller in all likelihood. It was not a time for a goalkeeper with a temper.

Blackburn's Tim Flowers, unlike his ranting Manchester United counterpart, barely registered an emotion. He just looked suspiciously at the ground and prodded at it like a bomb-disposal expert who feared finding a mine. Oh, and his face turned a bright shade of red.

While the tiffs and butts were at Maine Road, Ewood Park witnessed one of the extraordinary goals of this or any other season. Not through any brilliance, but through utter perversity. If you did not see it on Match of the Day, find a friend who taped it.

Stan Collymore tried a shot from 25 yards that was so lame the Liverpool striker was turning away in disgust. Flowers, meanwhile, did everything right, following rule one in the goalkeeper's handbook: get your body behind the ball.

Unfortunately, at precisely the moment where Flowers had no hope of adjusting, it took off. Jumping viciously, it leapt over the goalkeeper's right shoulder and rolled on into his personal list of nightmares.

Collymore raised his arms for an instant and then realising it was inappropriate to celebrate, shrugged sympathetically towards his opponent. If it was possible, he looked more embarrassed than Flowers. "It was just one of those ridiculous situations," the goalkeeper said philosophically, while looking as if he would be using the cat to practise clearances later in the evening.

With that, the agenda was set. Having had one break, Liverpool could attack through many others as Blackburn had to press forward to find an equaliser. When you have strikers built for the counter-attack like Collymore and Robbie Fowler, the chances were the visitors would prevail.

Collymore got a second with a whipped-in free-kick and Fowler produced the pass of the day to find Michael Thomas for Liverpool's third after 70 minutes. Together, they looked a partnership that Terry Venables ought to look at before England start the European Championship proper.

Shearer, meanwhile, had a fairly miserable afternoon. He had scored in every home Premiership game this season, but the service he received on Saturday was lamentable. He had just one shot and a header and although the latter looped just over, neither was a 24-carat chance.

Blackburn would have got a point if the referee had followed the majority view and awarded a penalty for John Barnes' blatant handball with two minutes remaining. The midfielder put his arms up to increase the barrier facing Kevin Gallacher's volley, so the fact that ball hit hand was a flimsy line for the defence.

Certainly someone who awarded a spot-kick for Michael Frontzeck's challenge on Eric Cantona should surely have seen guilt on this occasion, but the referee, besieged by Blackburn protesters, waved play on. As Manchester City supporters will tell you, Mr Wilkie is not a coventional man when it comes to penalties.

Goals: Collymore (10) 0-1; Collymore (20) 0-2; Wilcox (25) 1-2; Thomas (70) 1-3; Sherwood (83) 2-3.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers; Berg, Hendry, Coleman, Kenna; Ripley (Warhurst, 52), Sherwood, McKinlay (Gudmundsson, 75), Wilcox; Shearer, Gallacher. Substitute not used: Marker.

Liverpool (5-3-2): James; McAteer, Wright, Scales, Babb, R Jones; McManaman, Thomas, Barnes; Collymore, Fowler. Substitutes not used: Rush, Harkness, Warner (gk).

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).

Bookings: Blackburn: Sherwood. Liverpool: Thomas.

Man of the match: Collymore. Attendance: 30,895.

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