There were no goals, or bizarre back passes for that matter, but Carlton Cole once again underlined his growing reputation ahead of another spell of England duty with a display that was one of few high points in a dour match. Cole's selection under Fabio Capello has been mockingly used as an indication of how far Michael Owen's career has fallen away but his new status as an international looks more assured by the week.
As well as the pace and skill in evidence yesterday, as he made all of his own chances and showed Blackburn's Jason Roberts just how to play up front on your own, he joins an exclusive band of footballers that can claim to have swatted Chris Samba aside like he was Luka Modric. Gianfranco Zola can at least console himself with that after West Ham wilted under the pressure Blackburn were finally able to put on them in the closing stages, thanks to the prompting of David Dunn.
After the fall-out of the violence that marred his team's 3-1 Carling Cup win over Millwall, Zola was satisfied with his side's efforts and not troubled by Martin O'Neill being at Ewood Park, to watch James Collins.
He said: "Considering everything that's happened, it's a good result. I know my team can do better but I have to be pleased. I can't help it if Martin O'Neill is here – my two centre backs were vital because of the way they played we defended very well."
Cole threatened for the first time, powering past Lars Jacobsen and Samba to create a chance that never looked likely only to clip his shot high and wide from a narrow angle. Morten Gamst Pedersen and Samba each had efforts deflected and after the restart, Cole received the ball with his back to goal and tore towards goal only for his drive to fly just over Paul Robinson's crossbar.
Blackburn continued to do what they could but a Samba header again fell easily for Robert Green before Dunn created two fine chances for David Hoilett. First, he lifted the ball over the top only for the youngster to hit the side netting, and then he guided the ball through the West Ham defence for Hoilett to chip over Green and on to the roof of the net.
Sam Allardyce, the Blackburn manager, said of his team's problems in front of goal: "When things are going for you and in your favour, those chances go in and they're not. Those are the small differences that make all the difference in the Premier League. It's all about inches and at the moment we're the wrong side of those inches."
Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the match: Dunn
Match rating: 3/10Reuse content