Blackburn squander opportunity to upset the odds

Blackburn 1 Chelsea 2

Branislav Ivanovic nodded home a late winner for Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea as Blackburn squandered a golden chance to upset the odds at Ewood Park.

Rovers controlled the game for long periods and could have gone in front for the second time when Jason Roberts shot wide in the 81st minute with the goal at his mercy.

Less than a minute later Carlo Ancelotti's side were heading towards all three points when the unmarked Ivanovic connected with a Yury Zhirkov cross at point-blank range.

Rovers boss Sam Allardyce will be left reflecting on how his side finished up with nothing after an exceptional first-half display capped by Benjani Mwaruwari's first goal for the club.

Benjani headed a 21st-minute opener as Rovers pinned Chelsea back in their own half and ought to have moved further ahead before the break.

Instead they allowed Nicolas Anelka to fire home a 39th-minute equaliser and leave Chelsea no doubt relieved to have got off so lightly.

Starting the day five points clear at the top of the table, Ancelotti's men had headed north seemingly only concerned by the continued absence of Frank Lampard due to injury.

But any sense of superiority which may have pervaded the visiting dressing room was soon swept away as struggling Rovers launched an all-out assault.

At the end of a first period notable for its one-sided action, Allardyce's side could count themselves particularly unfortunate not to find themselves comfortably ahead.

Mame Biram Diouf and Brett Emerton were both denied shooting chances by the returning Alex before captain John Terry got a crucial block on a Morten Gamst Pedersen effort.

Moments later Mame Biram Diouf attempted an audacious lob over the back-pedalling Cech, who slipped but just managed to flap the ball out for a corner.

Benjani drilled a shot into Cech's legs before he grabbed the richly-deserved opener, rising highest to nod home a cross from El-Hadji Diouf.

The visitors looked strangely flat with Michael Essien coming closest with a long-range effort on 37 minutes, but they only needed one chance to pull level.

The equaliser arrived in the 39th minute at the end of a flowing move which saw Florent Malouda cross from the left to Didier Drogba, who headed down for Anelka to sweep home.

To their credit Rovers were far from rattled and continue to create chances in the second half, mostly through the lively and energetic Mame Biram Diouf.

But the visitors fired another warning that it would only take a second to turn the game in their favour when Drogba crossed for Ashley Cole to poke a left-footed shot just wide.

And Chelsea came close again on the hour when Drogba's cross from the right was stepped over by Malouda before Zhirkov drilled a low left-footed effort at Robinson.

Rovers should have regained the lead a minute later when Pedersen sent in a set-piece from the right which dribbled across goal before Mame Biram Diouf bundled it the wrong side of the post.

Moments after coming on as a substitute, Daniel Sturridge almost made an immediate impact when he ended a diagonal run with a crashing left-foot shot which flew into the side-netting.

But Rovers continued to press for a winner and it should have arrived in the 81st minute when Roberts turned inside Ashley Cole before shooting across Cech and wide of target.

From that moment it seemed inevitable Rovers would be punished and they duly were less than a minute later when Ivanovic nodded in Zhirkov's left-wing cross at the far post.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital