Blackburn Rovers 4 Manchester City 2: McCarthy cleans up for Blackburn amid City waste

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A stuttering start to the season was compounded when an injury-time equaliser conceded in Salzburg last Thursday made Blackburn's progress in the Uefa Cup less certain but at least their Premiership campaign is up and running.

Inspired by their Norwegian winger Morten Gamst Pedersen, who scored twice and set up what was effectively the decisive goal for Benni McCarthy, Rovers registered their first League win in a manner that suggested City may be facing another characteristically accident-prone season.

Despite creating a string of chances, Stuart Pearce's side had to come from behind twice from Pedersen's free-kicks to reach half-time level but fell away thereafter, although their cause was not helped by an injury to Hatem Trabelsi, whose dynamism in midfield had been giving them the edge until a groin injury forced him out.

It prompted Pearce to trot out a lament familiar to City managers. "We didn't take our chances and then shot ourselves in the foot by gifting too many easy goals," he said. "We need to look at ourselves and be a little bit more hard-nosed."

His counterpart, Mark Hughes, could hardly believe his luck at finishing with what felt like a handsome victory. "We were so far off the pace City could have been out of sight by half-time," he conceded.

Indeed, City created five chances in the first 15 minutes, culminating in a glaring miss by Joey Barton.

But then an own goal handed Blackburn the lead after Dietmar Hamann, making his debut in City's midfield, had brought down David Bentley. Pedersen's left-footed, inswinging free-kick was helped on its way by Trevor Sinclair, whose head took it out of the reach of the unfortunate goalkeeper, Nicky Weaver.

There was no subduing City, for whom Barton went close twice more, watching Lucas Neill head his free-kick off the line before Brad Friedel made his fourth save of the opening half. It was Barton who finally made a chance count, drilling the ball past the Blackburn goalkeeper after Paul Dickov's ball over the top had found him onside.

Having just lost Trabelsi, City needed a change of luck but they were level for a mere five minutes, as Pedersen's left foot took advantage of another inviting free-kick, Weaver being made to look inept this time as the Norwegian's delivery evaded him.

How relieved he must have been that the comedy continued barely 90 seconds later at the other end, where the Dutch defender Andre Ooijer obligingly toe-poked Bernardo Corradi's low cross into his own net.

The response from Rovers was a double change at half-time, Shabani Nonda taking the place of Jeffers and Aaron Mokoena that of Tugay. More to the point, they tightened their work across the field to the extent that the flow of chances that City had enjoyed before the break had now virtually dried up.

Rovers were unable to carve out many more of their own but the significant one that did come their way, when man-of-the-match Pedersen stole a march on Richard Dunne at a throw-in, ended with McCarthy steering the ball past Weaver from close range for this third goal of the season. By the time substitute Paul Gallagher slotted home Brett Emerton's low centre with a couple of minutes City were beaten.

Goals: Sinclair (og 18) 1-0; Barton (39) 1-1; Pedersen (44) 2-1; Ooijer (og 45) 2-2; McCarthy (66) 3-2; Gallagher (89) 4-2.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Friedel; Emerton, Ooijer, Khizanishvili, Neill; Bentley, Savage, Tugay (Mokoena h-t), Pedersen; Jeffers (Nonda, h-t), McCarthy (Gallagher 85). Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Peter.

Manchester City (4-4-2): Weaver; Richards, Dunne, Distin, Jordan; Trabelsi (Beasley 35), Barton, Hamann (Ireland 78), Sinclair; Corradi, Dickov (Samaras 61). Substitutes not used: Hart (gk), Reyna.

Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).

Bookings: Blackburn Savage, McCarthy; Manchester City Corradi, Hamann, Richards.

Man of the match: Pedersen.

Attendance: 18,403.