Howard paves way for raid by Rovers

Blackburn Rovers 1 Everton 0: Kalinic cashes in on error by American keeper as dark horses Everton stumble at the first hurdle
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The Independent Football

Being a football manager can be an entirely thankless task. You get your side ready for the new season, in David Moyes's case you take them to Australia on a pre-season tour, you persuade the likes of Mikel Arteta to sign a new long-term contract at the club and you do everything in your power to prepare and train for the opening game of the season.

Then your goalkeeper drops the ball after 14 minutes and yet another season begins with disappointment. David Moyes will awaken this morning probably still smiling the wry grin of a manager who knows that, sometimes, football has an uncanny ability to bite where it hurts.

Tim Howard's terrible error – the American keeper dropped a ball that he would expect to catch 100 times out of 100 – allowed Nikola Kalinic to sweep it in from 16 yards out.

For the time being, forget the plaudits from the likes of Arsène Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson about Everton being a genuine Premier League contender, if you gave Moyes one wish it would be to wind the clock back to 3.14pm and erase Howard's error.

"Tim's mistake was costly but it happens," Moyes philosophically – and accurately – surmised. "He has been really good for us but this time it was decisive."

Decisive it was but Everton were also their own worst enemy on an afternoon when their lack of bite will have provoked spasms of concern among their followers.

Blackburn have become increasingly adept at devouring sides at Ewood Park with a combination of physical play combined with a mix of even more physical play.

That is not to say they are dirty; they just do what they are good at, as Everton found to their cost. Moyes's side were never given room to settle, Tim Cahill, Arteta and Leon Osman were crowded for space and time and Louis Saha offered no threat up front.

The service to the Everton frontman was lacklustre to say the least as Gaël Givet, Michel Salgado and Ryan Nelsen all had outstanding performances at the back and Moyes was in no mood to brush over his team's inadequacies.

"Overall the performance wasn't as good as it might have been," he said. "Blackburn did a good job on us but our forward play was poor and we had very few chances. We never really put them under any sustained pressure except for the last 15 minutes where I think they were hanging on. It came down to one small thing. We'll move on and go on to the next game."

Sam Allardyce was thrilled with Kalinic's instinctive finish and the way Rovers held on for the victory.

Towards the end, Jack Rodwell and Phil Jagielka had good opportunities for the visitors but Blackburn would not be defeated.

The home side were as poor as their guests when it came to creating chances, although Steven Nzonzi and Martin Olsson both missed opportunities from which they could have scored. "If you include the two wins at the back end of last season, then that's three victories in a row and that's not easy to achieve in the Premier League," said Allardyce.

"I am particularly delighted for Niko Kalinic because he showed a great piece of skill. It will be overshadowed by Tim Howard's mistake but it's not easy when you have a split second to react and then you swivel your body and finish well.

"Our home form will again prove vital and we showed how formidable we can be by beating a very good Everton side."

Attendance: 25,869

Referee: Phil Dowd

Man of the match: Pedersen

Match rating: 4/10

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