Shearer's spark

QPR 0 Blackburn Rovers 1 Shearer 77 Attendance: 13,957
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The Independent Online
BLACKBURN ROVERS had not won away in the Premier League since the corresponding fixture on 1 April last year. Their victory was not a pretty display and it took a flash of brilliance from Alan Shearer to break the deadlock.

The first half was a dreary affair in which Rovers had the better of territory and possession but constantly over-elaborated in the final third. This lack of penetration drove a despairing Shearer to distraction and made for a dispiriting spectacle.

QPR's tactics in countering this territorial disadvantage was to hoof the ball forward in the vague direction of Sinclair. This merely provided the admirable Colin Hendry with some heading practice and so the pattern repeated itself.

The only chance of merit occurred when Stuart Ripley escaped down the left and Shearer just failed to make clean contact with his head as he made a late run to the near post. Both sides came out for the second half aware of their shortcomings and determined to inject some life into the game.

Rangers brought on Mark Hateley, who was returning after an absence due to a broken nose, and for 15 minutes had their best period of the game. Hateley proved to be a far more effective target man against Hendry and his flick released Nigel Quashie, who drove over from eight yards.

The 17-year-old Quashie was instrumental in two more attacks in quick succession. His cross was headed back at the far post by Andrew Impey, only for Ray Wilkins to sidefoot over the bar; and he made a surging run from midfield and shot narrowly over when Hateley was free at the far post.

As QPR pushed forward more space appeared in midfield and Blackburn staged a series of counter-attacks of their own. Lars Bohinen had two shots inside a minute: one was volleyed from the edge of the area straight at Jurgen Sommer; the other went wide.

Blackburn's crossing was still, in the main, poor. But Jeff Kenna finally got his pace and direction right. Shearer slipped in front of his marker in the area and connected precisely with Kenna's whipped cross from the left, leaving Sommer stranded.