Liverpool humbled by rampant Rovers

Blackburn Rovers 3 Liverpool 1

Roy Hodgson has survived many low points in his short spell as Liverpool manager but defeat at Blackburn would seem to be one disaster too far and could hasten his exit from Anfield.

Even before Saturday's injury-time winner against Bolton the suggestion was club owners New England Sports Ventures were actively looking for a replacement.

On this performance they will probably have to speed up that search as two goals from Benjani Mwaruwari, who had not started since November 6 and scored once in 12 previous appearances, and one from Martin Olsson condemned the Reds to a ninth Barclays Premier League defeat of the season, despite Steven Gerrard's late consolation.

The now almost-obligatory chants for club legend Kenny Dalglish surfaced in the second half and at one point it seemed all four sides of Ewood Park were singing "You're getting sacked in the morning" to Hodgson.

Liverpool had lost just one of their previous 24 league meetings against Blackburn but even that was not enough encouragement for the travelling fans.

They voted with their feet, as they had done against Bolton on Saturday when Anfield was about 8,000 below capacity, and for the first time failed to fill the Darwen End at Ewood Park.

Pity the poor souls who made the short journey east as they had to endure a result more demoralising than the 1-0 defeat at home to Wolves last week.

Despite coming up against one of the most lightweight midfields in the Premier League - Olsson, David Dunn, Morten Gamst Pedersen and Junior Hoilett - Liverpool failed to impose themselves on the game.

Fernando Torres, who was on the end of some tough tackling but nothing over the top, flashed an early header wide but spent most of the game complaining to referee Andre Marriner.

Rovers looked far more threatening and after Dunn had volleyed over from the edge of the penalty area and Mame Biram Diouf had bundled an eight-yard shot straight at Jose Reina they found their shooting boots.

Defender Ryan Nelsen was given plenty of time in the centre circle to play the ball out to Diouf on the left and when he knocked it on Olsson raced past the static Glen Johnson to fire past Reina in the 32nd minute.

Five minutes later it was Sotirios Kyrgiakos' turn to be slow to react as Benjani controlled Pedersen's cross on his chest and turned to lash a ferocious volley past Reina.

By contrast the most work Rovers' inexperienced goalkeeper Mark Bunn, deputising for the injured Paul Robinson, had to do was fingertip Joe Cole's angled shot wide of the far post.

The Liverpool manager's misery was complete when in the 57th minute Hoilett went around Martin Skrtel and Johnson as if they were not there and from the byline crossed for Benjani to sidefoot home his second of the night.

In almost an exact replay of Benjani's second goal Diouf ran into the left of the area and crossed into the six-yard box but Hoilett could not get his outstretched foot on the ball.

Gerrard, on his 550th Liverpool appearance, fired in an 80th-minute consolation when Torres' shot was blocked but that barely raised a cheer from the travelling support.

When the captain ballooned over a penalty five minutes later, after being fouled by Salgado, any hopes of an Istanbul-style fightback were dashed.

But even an occurrence such as that would have done nothing to mask the malaise the club are currently in.

Hodgson, as both Fulham and Liverpool manager, has now won just two away league games since the start of the 2009/10 season.

That has contributed significantly to his problems but a failure to win over fans and impose a suitably offensive style of play have also been a factor.

This result and the embarrassing sound of Rovers fans singing "Can we play you every week" and "Are you Burnley in disguise" will not have gone unnoticed in the Boston headquarters of NESV.

The next move is surely theirs and it is one Hodgson will be dreading.

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