Rudy Gestede showed why he is coveted by a number of Premier League sides with the crucial goal as Blackburn dumped nine-man Swansea out of the FA Cup in the fourth round.
Swansea faced an uphill struggle from the seventh minute when Kyle Bartley hauled down Josh King and was sent off. Gylfi Sigurdsson scored with a stunning 30-yard strike in the 21st minute to give the 10-man Premier League side hope, but Rovers levelled two minutes later through Chris Taylor.
Gradually the strain told on Swansea as the Championship racked up the pressure and substitute Gestede put Rovers 2-1 ahead with 12 minutes left. After Craig Conway made a home win a certainty with an 89th-minute strike, it all became too much for Sigurdsson, who made a reckless lunge at Taylor and was sent off.
It was a great day for Rovers, the downside being that fewer than 6,000 fans were there to see them reach the last 16.
Gestede had come off the bench after an hour to score his 13th goal of the season, fulfilling the demands of his manager, Gary Bowyer, who praised the striker nor the way he has handled the transfer speculation. “We said to him as he was going on, ‘Go and score the winner’,” Bowyer said. “It wasn’t quite the winner but he made a big impact because that’s what he is – a big player for us.”
Swansea’s manager, Garry Monk, named only six of the side who lost 5-0 to Chelsea last weekend and left his new signing, Kyle Naughton, on the bench. Blackburn left Gestede and Jordan Rhodes as substitutes.
In the absence of the leading strikers, King used his pace to frighten the Swansea defence. outpacing Bartley when pursuing a long ball to reduce the defender to grabbing at him.
Tom Cairney took the free-kick and Lukasz Fabianski pushed the ball back into the middle only for King to shoot wide. But if that lifted the Rovers fans they were soon deflated when Sigurdsson took the hard and bobbly surface out of the equation by blasting into the top corner for the opener after cutting in from the left.
Two minutes was all it took for Rovers to equalise, though, and it was a fine move. Play switched from right to left as Markus Olsson was sent away. His cross was headed down by Cairney and Taylor finished smartly.
With an hour gone, Bowyer sent on Gestede and 18 minutes later Blackburn were ahead. After a short corner Gestede fluffed his header but he reacted well to volley in the loose ball.
Rovers needed Shane Duffy to make another superb block as Angel Rangel burst through, before Conway sneaked a shot under Fabianski to wrap it up.
Blackburn Rovers: (4-5-1) Eastwood; Henley, Duffy, Kilgallon, Olsson; Taylor, Williamson (Dunn, 41; Rhodes, 77), Lowe, Conway, Cairney; King (Gestede, 60).
Swansea City: (4-5-1) Fabianski; Rangel, Amat, Bartley, Tiendalli; Carroll (Fernandez, 9), Shelvey, Dyer, Sigurdsson, Barrow (Montero, 62); Gomis (Castro Oliveira, 77).
Referee: Craig Pawson
Man of the match: Gestede (Blackburn)
Match rating: 6/10
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