Charlton Athletic 1 Blackburn Rovers 0: El Karkouri's late show breathes life into Charlton

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The Independent Football

There were times when the Charlton Athletic head coach, Les Reed, must have thought that his side's commendable spirit should have been rewarded by a little more than the point that they looked set to take.

As the game went into injury time seemingly headed for a draw, he would, no doubt, have been preparing for yet another Premiership match under his charge passing without that elusive win, and making his excuses ready. But the long-awaited victory came seconds from the end as the defender Talal El Karkouri scored from a free-kick to beat a poor Blackburn Rovers team. Cue euphoric scenes at The Valley.

"Having won the game in spectacular fashion, we enjoyed that victory," said Reed, sharing a broad smile that few knew he had. "We played well and this gives us a confidence boost. For me they are three valuable points and if things are tight at the end, that free-kick will be very important."

Blackburn struggled to match the enthusiasm of their hosts. They were looking sluggish, at times, bemused by the movement of Charlton's players. But to concede such a late blow, was perhaps a little harsh. The Rovers manager, Mark Hughes, said: "I felt it was a game that neither team deserved to win."

Charlton had a claim for a penalty dismissed on 28 minutes when the striker Lloyd Sam tumbled under the challenge of the Blackburn captain, Lucas Neill. In response, Blackburn failed to create much.

Charlton carved a well-worked goalscoring opportunity four minutes after the interval, with Andy Reid again instrumental for the home side. He found Sam in the penalty area, who then played a one-two with Luke Young before hitting the ball across the face of Brad Friedel's goal. Bryan Hughes bundled his shot against the American.

The game wore on, and Reid delivered an inswinging corner on 68 minutes, but Hermann Hreidarsson headed over after outmanoeuvring Sergio Peter.

With the two minutes of allotted injury time nearing their end, the Swiss defender Stéphane Henchoz cynically charged the Charlton substitute Marcus Bent off the ball. Blackburn waited for the free-kick to be taken. Reid and El Karkouri stood over the ball and with the defenders expecting the former to take the set-piece, the Moroccan defender curled a low, right-footed shot around the wall and past a helpless Friedel. The Valley exploded.

Goal: El Karkouri (90) 1-0.

Charlton Athletic (4-3-1-2): Carson; Young, Hreidarsson, El Karkouri, Traoré (Diawara, 26); Kishishev (Holland, 88), Faye, Hughes; Reid; Sam (M Bent, 71), D Bent. Substitutes not used: Myhre (gk), Rommedahl.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Friedel; Neill, Henchoz, Ooijer, Gray; Emerton (Peter, 62), Savage, Bentley (Tugay, h-t), Pedersen (Gallagher, h-t); McCarthy, Nonda. Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Mokoena.

Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).

Booked: Charlton Athletic Hughes; Blackburn Rovers Neill, Henchoz.

Man of the match: Reid.

Attendance: 23,423.

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