Dalglish: 'This does not mean we have turned a corner'

Blackburn Rovers 2 Liverpool 3

Ewood Park

Kenny Dalglish returned to Blackburn talking darkly of refereeing conspiracies. He would have left Ewood Park wondering whether Howard Webb would be warming up for Saturday's FA Cup semi-final from behind a grassy knoll.

The Liverpool manager was already resigned to facing Everton without Pepe Reina, now his second-choice goalkeeper, Alexander Doni, was shown a red card. Frankly, he was lucky not to lose his third, Brad Jones. Tussling with Yakubu after the forward had charged down his clearance with his backside, he pushed him over.

The penalty was a formality but Ewood screamed for a second red card. Instead, it was yellow and the possibility of a frantic telephone call to Ray Clemence to ask if he was doing anything much on Saturday receded. What saved Jones was the fact that the ball was bouncing away from his goal.

 

For Jones, an Australian with a passion for rules football, his time at Liverpool had been frustrating on the pitch and heart-rending off it. In November his son, Luca, had died from leukaemia at the age of five. On the final whistle, he dedicated an extraordinary victory to his boy's memory. This week his partner had given birth to a baby son, called Nico. He will remember these past few days. It was a win snatched by Andy Carroll, a man who has endured the brunt of the rainstorm of criticism that has washed over Anfield as their league season has stumbled and spluttered. Dalglish refused point blank to discuss the refereeing decisions but his opposite number, Steve Kean, was not so inhibited. It was, said the Blackburn manager, "a cruel ending" made crueller by the fact that Carroll was only played onside because Grant Hanley and Martin Skrtel had been scrapping with each other on the byeline – meaning Hanley was out of position when Carroll went to meet Daniel Agger's header.

"I thought after we got the equaliser, it was all us," he said. Nevertheless, for Kean this was an ominous fourth successive defeat, less than a month after Blackburn looked to be easing towards safety.

Returning to the ground where, in 1995, he had steered a club awash with money to the title – which as Manchester City have discovered is not as easy as it sounds – Dalglish observed: "It doesn't mean to say we have turned a corner."

However, an astonishing victory, achieved with 10 men, did put an end to the worst run of his career. The only comparable period was his only full season at Newcastle United, which finished with an FA Cup final. It was lost but at least he had a choice of goalkeepers.

This match might have been considered a pre-match drink before the serious business of Wembley. It was some cocktail, played with remarkable speed and verve, especially from a Liverpool side full of understudies who counter-attacked with relish.

The first breakout stemmed from a Blackburn free-kick that was driven out with superb accuracy by Srktel a couple of paces in front of his own six-yard box to Craig Bellamy. Of all of Dalglish's summer signings, save perhaps for Jose Enrique, the Welshman has attracted the least criticism and controversy – which for a footballer who possesses a mouth as wide as the Taff is something of a rarity in his career.

At 32, his pace and passion remain undimmed and Bellamy took the ball and tore down Blackburn's exposed left flank, crossing the ball low and perfectly for Maxi Rodriguez to put Liverpool ahead. Blackburn's defending was non-existent.

Since he arrived from Atletico Madrid to join Rafael Benitez's disintegrating regime, the Argentine has scored goals without ever establishing himself in Liverpool's sides. He is one of the few at Anfield who could claim they played their best football under Roy Hodgson. Three minutes later, he had his second.

Again, there was no suggestion that Kean had chosen anyone to hold the centre of his midfield together as Jonjo Shelvey dispossessed David Dunn and drove forward. His shot ought to have been saved rather than parried away by Paul Robinson. Carroll's attempt to seize on the rebound was blocked but the ball spun out to Rodriguez and the man from Lionel Messi's home city of Rosario did the rest.

Liverpool's control was total; then it was gone. The catalyst was a dreadful back-pass from Jon Flanagan, who had already been booked, might have been sent off and was enduring a wretched evening.

Junior Hoilett seized upon it and as Doni advanced to meet it, he committed himself and the striker almost fell over his body. It was a penalty and a red card. The Italian looked distraught and, frankly, you felt for him. He had waited all season for his chance and had been given a shot at the FA Cup semi-final by Reina's dismissal at Newcastle. Now that had been snatched from him and he lingered an age by the Liverpool fans before making his way off.

Thus, Jones, Liverpool's third-choice goalkeeper, made his way on to the pitch to face a penalty. Flanagan, mercifully, made way. There are various ways to describe how Yakubu took it but "rubbish" will suffice. It trundled across the ground towards Jones who gathered rather than saved it.

"What was going through my mind?" said Jones. "Many a Friday on the training pitches at Middlesbrough when we used to practise penalties together. I knew his style and what he was likely to do." He was more tested by Carroll's backward header that almost produced an own goal in the second half.

However, when he faced his second penalty of the night, Yakubu chose to strike it into the dead centre of the Liverpool goal to bring the sides level. Ten minutes after he had squandered the first penalty Yakubu had proved himself rather more effective at set-pieces when he rose unmarked at the far post to head home David Dunn's free-kick to bring a breathless night even more vividly to life.

Man of the match Yakubu.

Match rating 8/10.

Referee A Taylor (Cheshire).

Attendance 23,571.

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own