Blackburn Rovers 2 MyPa 0: Bentley and Roberts slow to drive home Blackburn's superiority

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Blackburn, whose Uefa Cup adventures last season have given them an appetite for more, progressed into the first round proper of this year's competition with a routine victory over unpretentious Finnish opposition.

A well-taken goal from David Bentley, after a first half during which they had been frustrated by the excellence of the MyPa goalkeeper, Janne Korhonen, set Rovers on their way.

There should have been far more goals than that on the night, long before Jason Roberts scrambled one over the line in added time to give the scoreline a more realistic appearance and make absolutely sure that there would be five British clubs in the Uefa Cup competition proper as well as six in the Champions League.

"Credit to them," said the Blackburn manager, Mark Hughes, of the way that the opposition had made the night less straightforward than it might have been.

"They worked extremely hard. They've got a young, fit team and they kept going and made it difficult for us."

Bentley's goal was typical of many he scores, clean and decisive. What was less typical was that he met Morten Gamst Pedersen's left-footed cross with a volley on his own, weaker left foot.

"It was a great, clean strike and a fantastic goal," said his manager, who reiterated his confident assertion that Bentley would not let England down if selected for the two Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Russia early next month. "Everyone knows my feelings about David. He's a great young talent," Hughes said. "It's all about timing and that can't have done his chances any harm at all. There are injuries on the right and maybe David's time has come."

Before that goal, Blackburn's chances had come in clutches and had brought the best out of the Finnish captain and goalkeeper.

They should have been ahead after 11 minutes when Tugay and Brett Emerton opened up the defence and Roberts failed to force the ball in at the far post.

Korhonen then produced splendid low saves from Aaron Mokoena and Roberts, before the game drifted off into a quieter phase.

It came alive again in the minutes before half-time, sparked by Bentley's run and shot past the foot of a post. That triggered another flurry, with Korhonen saving from Maceo Rigters and, best of all, at point-blank range from Roberts shot on the turn.

Korhonen knew rather less about Mokoena's header that hit him and stayed out of the net, but his continuing defiance kept alive the faint chance of a late finish smash and grab as they finally committed some more troops to attack.

That possibility finally died in the 91st minute when Bentley's corner was flicked on by Matt Derbyshire and Roberts, who could be out of Ewood Park before the end of the transfer window at midnight, claimed an overdue goal with a back-heel.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Friedel; Emerton, Ooijer, Nelsen, Warnock (Olsson, 76); Bentley, Tugay, Mokoena, Pedersen; Roberts, Rigters (Derbyshire, 76). Substitutes not used: Enckelman (gk), Santa Cruz, Khizanishvili, Gallagher, Dunn.

MyPa (4-4-1-1): Korhonen; Huttunen, Pulkkinen, Miranda, Kansikas; Muinonen (Peltonen, 73), Mustafi, Agboh, Leilei (Puhakainen, h-t); Kuparinen, Kangaskolkka (Helenius, 60). Substitutes not used: Luukonen (gk), Fofana, Marchis, Karhu.

Referee: T Einwaller (Austria).