Football: Black as Bak pips Rovers

Blackburn Rovers 0 Lyons 1
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The Independent Online
A STUNNING late goal fromc Jacek Bak, a Polish international midfielder, completed another night of European misery for Blackburn.

Almost an hour and a half of frustration was in the process of leaving them with an awkward task in the second leg of this Uefa Cup first-round tie, when Bak's blast made it fiendishly difficult. Jason Wilcox's defensive header fell to him almost 35 yards out and, although Bak is hardly noted for his goalscoring, his fierce right-foot shot flew past Tim Flowers and into the top corner.

It was a disappointing way to lose after dominating the bulk of the play. On another night, Rovers could have had several goals, but they are now likely to regret a series of misses almost as much as Lyons' winner.

One of the few things worse than Blackburn's current Premiership form is their record in Europe, so this was never an assignment to be taken lightly. They should, however, have gone ahead after two minutes. Chris Sutton met a corner, but failed to direct his stooping header past the French goalkeeper, Gregory Coupet.

It is not possible to be too harsh on Sutton for that miss, because he laid on enough chances to have won a couple of European ties. He was a problem for the Frenchmen on the ground and a handful in the air, and Kevin Davies could have had three goals from the opportunities he provided. That is a big part of Blackburn's current problems. The Sutton-Davies axis shows promise but it is not yet productive. After the strike-rate of Sutton and the injured Kevin Gallacher, let alone Sutton and Shearer, the new partnership is worryingly barren.

Davies showed some neat touches, particularly in wide positions, but whenever he got on to the end of one of Sutton's promptings, he came away empty-handed. A volley wide of the target set the pattern and two other opportunities in the second half went the same way. Sutton also laid on a chance for Garry Flitcroft who had an angled shot palmed around the post and later put an over-head kick straight at the goalkeeper.

The best constructed effort of all came early in the second-half when Sebastian Perez bemused his fellow countrymen with a series of one-twos and then had a low shot finger-tipped on to the post.

If Blackburn spent most of the match threatening to score, then the visitors presented recurring danger on the counter-attack. Immediately before half- time, Vikash Dhorasoo had a vacant penalty area to play with but opted for power rather than precision and saw Flowers deflect the ball over the bar. Sadly for Blackburn and their European prospects, there was no way he could get a hand to Bak's decisive strike.

"We seem at the moment fated to be recipients of incredible goals, two at Sheffield Wednesday and now that one tonight," said the Blackburn manager, Roy Hodgson.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers; Dailly, Henchoz, Peacock, Davidson; Perez (Dahlin, 68), Sherwood, Flitcroft, Wilcox; Sutton, Davies. Substitutes not used: Kenna, McKinlay, Johnson, Croft, Taylor, Filan (gk).

Lyons (4-4-2): Coupet; Carteron, Fournier, Laville, Delmotte; Bak, Violeau, Dhorasoo, Bassila; Caveglia (Linares, 70), Grassi. Substitutes not used: Cocard, Senoussi, Brechet, Job, Uras, Borrelli (gk).

Referee: K E Fisker (Denmark).