Blackburn Rovers 2, Larissa 1 (Larissa win 3-2 on agg): Warnock's fine volley fails to stop Rovers being driven out

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Blackburn Rovers, dismal in defeat in Greece two weeks ago, last night paid with their Uefa Cup place for waking up too late in the second leg as well.

Responding tepidly to the task of scoring at least twice on the evening, they saw an already taxing challenge turn even more difficult when Larissa scored early.

Although Matt Derbyshire and Stephen Warnock struck either side of half-time, the damage was done. "We conceded another disappointing goal and just left ourselves too much to do," said Blackburn manager Mark Hughes. "The aim is now to get back into Europe next season."

Scoring first-half goals has been a problem for Blackburn since well before they conceded twice in two minutes in Volos a fortnight ago. And they had not had an attempt of any description before their deficit became three in the 17th minute. Nektarios Alexandrou's centre was knocked back by Marco Foerster for Silva to defeat Warnock's lunge and rifle low past Brad Friedel from 15 yards.

Blackburn's belated lift came in first-half stoppage time when David Dunn set up the first of the minimum four goals Blackburn now needed. He appeared to be running the ball out when Stefanos Kotsolis brought him down to concede a penalty. The keeper saved Derbyshire's kick, only for the assistant referee to rule he had dived early and so present a second opportunity that the striker took.

Five minutes into the second half, Blackburn were right back in it when David Bentley picked out Warnock for a first-time left-foot volley that brought his first goal of the season.

But the added cutting edge Blackburn needed eluded them. "Sometimes, enthusiasm will help you overcome huge obstacles and that was the case here," said the Larissa manager and former Blackburn winger Giorgios Donis.