Everton's pretensions pricked by Kalinic

Blackburn Rovers 1 Everton 0
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The Independent Football

So much for all the hype. Everton's fans filled every available seat at Ewood Park within two hours of tickets going on sale, buoyed by the talk of their club's supposed ability to break into the top four this season.

How disappointed they will have felt after this performance and how foolish the likes of Arsène Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson look after singing the praises of David Moyes and suggesting Everton could be genuine Premier League contenders.

Nothing could be further from the truth on this evidence as Tim Howard's dreadful blunder gifted Blackburn an early goal that Everton never looked like cancelling out. He dropped the ball at the feet of Nikola Kalinic, who did the rest.

"That's probably the first mistake Tim has made maybe since he came to the club; he's been outstanding," said the Everton captain Phil Neville. "He apologised to everyone in the dressing room, but I don't think anyone is blaming him.

"We wanted a big squad, we wanted two players for every position, and with that comes expectation. Now we have it we can't go into our shell.

"We have to show our mettle and this will show whether we have what it takes to get into that top four."

Although chances were few and far between, the manner in which the likes of Gaël Givet, Phil Jones and Michel Salgado threw themselves around underlined that what Rovers lack in grace they more than make up for in commitment.

The Blackburn manager, Sam Allardyce, did not spend too much time worrying about his team's lack of inventive flair, preferring to praise Kalinic for taking the one real chance he got before suggesting he has a striker in his armoury who could become a true Premier League threat.

"Niko showed why we bought him with a great finish after a mistake by the goalkeeper," he said. "So we are very pleased that we have taken three points off a team who did the double over us last season."

Match facts

Blackburn Rovers 4-1-3-1-1: Robinson; Salgado, Samba, Nelsen, Givet; Jones; Olsson, Dunn (Nzonzi, 9), Pedersen; Kalinic (MB Diouf, 60); El Hadji Diouf. Substitutes not used Bunn, Emerton, Andrews, Hoilett, Chimbonda.

Booked Pedersen, Salgado.

Everton 4-4-2: Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Pienaar, Arteta , Cahill, Osman (Beckford, 59); Fellaini (Rodwell, 78), Saha (Bilyaletdinov, 73). Substitutes not used Mucha, Hibbert, Heitinga, Gueye.

Booked Cahill.

Man of the match Pedersen.

Referee P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Attendance 25,869