Wolves hit rock bottom as Blackburn bounce back

Blackburn Rovers 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
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The Independent Football

Squirming with embarrassment after being humiliated by Manchester United seven days earlier, Blackburn Rovers' manager, Sam Allardyce, saw his side bounce back in emphatic style with a victory that was cheered all the way in east London.

Despite not playing, West Ham United moved up one place on goal difference as Wolves were left propping up the Premier League for the first time in six years after a shambolic defensive performance.

David Dunn's first goal since May, Brett Emerton's first in nine appearances and Ryan Nelsen's first at Ewood Park for 11 months did the damage.

At the same time as Blackburn were slumping to a 7-1 defeat at Old Trafford last Saturday, Mick McCarthy's men were offering their followers hope that the tide had turned with a terrific comeback victory over Sunderland.

Yet with two games to go before Christmas, Wolves find themselves in trouble after 10 defeats in the past 13 League games. "We've got to keep going, but we shouldn't have conceded the goals we did," said McCarthy. "We defended badly."

There was no suggestion of what was to come as Wolves twice hit the woodwork in the opening five minutes, Stephen Ward's cross-shot deflected on to the post by Blackburn's keeper, Paul Robinson, before Ronald Zubar hit the bar. But the visitors' inability to keep a clean sheet once again proved costly as Rovers established a 2-0 lead withtheir only two serious chances of the opening 45 minutes. There was no looking back following Dunn's header after Nelsen had nodded Morten Gamst Pedersen's 29th-minute corner back across the face of goal.

It highlighted the defensive frailties of Wolves, who conceded a second after a long punt forward by Michel Salgado found Jason Roberts, whose clever lay-off after he had outmuscled Steven Mouyokolo allowed Emertonto lash home.

Staring another defeat in the face, McCarthy was forced to go for broke. He responded by opting for two up front, the striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake coming on for the central defender Mouyokolo. Yet it did nothing to alter the outcome as Rovers stretched their lead after more comical defending by the visitors. Despite a sea of Wolves shirts, Pedersen's impressive curling free-kick was allowed to find the central defender Nelsen, who ghosted in to tap home unmarked.

Wolves finished strongly as Robinson produced excellent saves to deny the substitute Stephen Hunt (twice) and George Elokobi. But this was a day to savour for Allardyce, whose team moved up to eighth in the table.

"We gave the players two days off in midweek because of the weather," he said. "The break seems to have done them a power of good. We knew we had to put it right in front of our own fans after what happened at Old Trafford."

Attendance: 22,314

Referee: Howard Webb

Man of the match: Nelsen

Match rating: 7/10