Rovers' pyrotechnics blast Bent out of shape

Blackburn Rovers 4 Charlton Athletic 1

His personal checklist went along the lines of, firstly, assess the coruscating form of Darren Bent and Danny Murphy; secondly, find his hotel; thirdly, ring Nancy. But by the end of the day the first tick had turned into a question mark matched in size only by the Swede's wonderment at the fireworks display the town of Blackburn puts on when Rovers win 4-1.

Bent and Murphy blew it. They were the principal reasons why Charlton Athletic arrived in east Lancashire with five wins from five away matches in the Premiership and they were the chief flops as that record ended.

From start to finish Blackburn were comprehensively the better team, going ahead in less than two minutes with a thunderbolt of a shot from Brett Emerton and getting their fourth in stoppage time when Craig Bellamy pounced on a flick-on from Shefki Kuqi.

However, the goal that best summed up Blackburn's performance was the third. Emerton sliced open Charlton's left flank with a delightful flick with his heel, Steven Reid charged into the space and Morten Gamst Pedersen brought a move of pace and precision to a climax with a half-volley. Where were the bruisers of Blackburn?

More pertinently for Eriksson, where were Bent and Murphy? Bent, starved of service, did nothing to attract the attention while Murphy worked hard, but his passing was unreliable and, like all his colleagues, he spent most of the match failing to work out Blackburn's midfield play. As a case for call-up for England, you could hardly imagine much worse.

Alan Curbishley, the Charlton manager, argued his players' performance against Tottenham last month was a better indicator of their qualities, but he was troubled. "I have players on the bench who are unhappy, but I have to make sure I make the right calls. I can't go overboard."

Nor will Eriksson. The England manager witnessed a midfield masterclass, but sadly it was from an old Turk from Istanbul rather than any young Turk with current international aspirations.

Eriksson left with one consolation: at least Tugay, 35, will not be able to do any harm to England at the World Cup. And the night had another pleasure in store. He could watch Match of the Day, happy in the knowledge David James has given up on eccentricity. Oops.

Goals: Emerton (2) 1-0; Dickov (18) 2-0; Hughes (36) 2-1; Pedersen (59) 3-1, Bellamy (90) 4-1.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Friedel; Neill, Todd (Bentley, 73), Khizanishvili, Gray (Mokoena, 28); Emerton, Tugay, Reid, Pedersen; Dickov (Kuqi, 81), Bellamy. Substitutes not used: Lee (gk), Jansen.

Charlton Athletic (4-5-1): Andersen; Young, Perry, Hreidarsson, Spector; Rommedahl (El Karkouri, 70), Kishishev, Murphy (Bothroyd, 70), Hughes, Ambrose (Thomas, 83); Bent. Substitutes not used: Myhre (gk), Holland.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: Charlton Perry, Hughes.

Man of the match: Tugay.

Attendance: 17,691.

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