Any memories of last season's stellar journey to the Carling Cup semi-finals would have haunted David Moyes last night. Cumbersome in defence, uninspired in midfield and with their summer signings not convincing, Everton trudged off Ewood Park with their own fans' boos ringing in their ears. Hardly the preparation Moyes needed for a defining week, with Saturday's Merseyside derby followed by a testing journey to Liège.
The Everton manager conceded that the fans were entitled to make their feelings felt to the strong side he fielded. "Tonight it was deserved as we didn't play well enough. The performance could have been better, should have been better," he said. The salt in the wound was Blackburn's decision to profit from a certain 33-year-old striker whom they thought they'd seen the back of. The selection of Robbie Fowler, who hadn't started a match since 6 November and is at Blackburn on a pay-as-you-play contract which expires in January, was a non-comformist approach to the Carling Cup in the week when Arsène Wenger's 16-year-olds have sparkled.
But Paul Ince discovered that the striker still has gifts. The cushioned return pass Fowler provided after 10 minutes to Martin Olsson was exquisite and decisive. The 20-year-old cut inside and dispatched a left-foot shot past Tim Howard before Phil Neville could challenge.
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2) Robinson (Brown, 11); Simpson, Oijer, Khizanishvili, Olsson; Villanueva (Santa Cruz, 72), Tugay, Warnock, Treacy (Pedersen, 75); Fowler, Derbyshire. Substitutes not used: Samba, Nelsen, Kane, Roberts.
Everton: (4-4-2) Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Yobo, Lescott; Rodwell, Castillo ( Cahill, h-t), Fellaini (Yakubu, h-t), Osman; Saha, Vaughan (Baxter, 83). Substitutes not used: Turner, Hibbert, Baines, Valente.
Referee M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).