Thompson's double fells Cardiff

Blackburn Rovers 3 - Cardiff City 2
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The Independent Football

It would not have taken Robbie Savage long to sum up his new club. Small crowd, horribly ponderous defence and in David Thompson a midfielder he will relish working with. Thompson's two goals ultimately proved too much for Cardiff in this FA Cup third round replay, although the Welsh side fought well enough to have at least forced extra time had they taken one of a flurry of chances that fell their way in the second half.

The Blackburn midfield might prove a formidable unit indeed if Savage and Brett Emerton perform at their peak and if Mark Hughes can somehow persuade Barry Ferguson, who has handed in a transfer request, to remain in Lancashire. It cannot purely be a coincidence that Blackburn's modest revival has coincided with Thompson's return from a cruciate knee injury and broken foot that cost him the second half of last season and the first of this.

Of his two first-half goals, one was superbly taken while the other was the product of a misunderstanding between goalkeeper and defender that was comical to everyone but the participants.

The opener showed precisely why Thompson excels as a goalscoring midfielder; well fed by a first-time ball from Paul Gallagher, he picked his spot precisely in the corner of Tony Warner's net. The Merseysider, who to Liverpool's enduring cost was deemed surplus to requirements at Anfield, would have expected nothing from an aimless punt into the box - one of several Blackburn delivered after Cardiff's equaliser - but both Warner and his centre-half, James Collins, hesitated and the ball bounced over the former's flailing glove to nestle in the back of the net.

To those who had journeyed from Wales to see this, that goal would have appeared more than usually cruel. Cardiff had not lost any of their previous six matches and had responded well to going a goal behind with some neat, stylish passing that exploited all of Blackburn's plodding uncertainty. Their opportunity arrived when Cardiff's Jamaican international, Jobi McAnuff, seized on a one-two with his international team-mate, Richard Langley, and finished every bit as decisively as Thompson had.

Even at 2-1 down, Cardiff might have fancied their chances at least of forcing extra time, a hope that seemed to have disappeared when Morten Gamst Pedersen scored his third in as many matches, forcing home a Lucas Neill cross and then celebrating by disappearing into the very sparse crowd.

However, Cardiff could easily have been level once more a quarter of an hour afterwards. Twice Collins took advantage of some immobile defending, seeing one header blocked by Brad Friedel and then forcing the rebound home. Another close-range effort from another cross by Graham Kavanagh was somehow turned away on the line by Friedel, who endured a more restless evening than he could have imagined.

Blackburn Rovers (4-5-1): Friedel; Neill, Mokoena, Todd, Matteo; Emerton, Tugay (Jonansson, 60), Thompson, Pedersen, Gallagher (Reid, 61); Dickov. Substitutes not used: Enckelman (gk), Stead, Johnson.

Cardiff City (4-4-2): Warner; Weston (Vidmar, 51), Gabbidon, Collins, Barker; Langley, Kavanagh, Inamoto (Ledley, 76), McAnuff; Lee, Thorne (Campbell, 62). Substitutes not used: Alexander (gk), Bullock.

Referee: S Dunn (Gloucestershire).

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