x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Liverpool warm up for FA semi-final with thrilling win over Blackburn

Manager Kenny Dalglish praises his players and the fans as the mis-firing Anfield club recover from having a their goalkeeper sent off to defeat Rovers at the death.

Andy Carroll celebrates scoring the winning goal.
Andy Carroll celebrates scoring the winning goal.

Kenny Dalglish praised his players after Liverpool recovered from squandering a two-goal lead and having their goalkeeper sent off to beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2 in a last-gasp finish.

The Reds raced into a 2-0 lead inside 16 minutes thanks to Maxi Rodriguez scoring twice but then things started to go wrong.

Alexander Doni, deputising for the suspended Jose Reina, was red-carded for bringing down Yakubu and although third-choice goalkeeper Brad Jones saved the spot-kick with his first touch on his Reds Premier League debut, the Nigerian was not to be denied as his two goals either side of half-time levelled things up.

It appeared Rovers were set for a point which would take them out of the relegation zone only for Andy Carroll to head in the winner in the second minute of added time.

"We can't speak highly enough of the effort and commitment of the players. We went 2-0 up and then went down to 10 men," Dalglish said.

"The supporters drove them forward and in the second half they came out and did really well.

"At the end of the day we just about deserved to win. We are delighted for the players - it has not been the best of times for them.

"It doesn't mean to say we have turned any corners but it gives everyone a lift."

Unlike on Saturday after the 1-1 draw with Aston Villa when Dalglish criticised decisions made by the referee, he would not comment on the issues arising out of tonight's game.

"We are delighted with the result and the three points and the only way we can handle the post-match press conference is to praise the players," he added.

"At the end of the day we are not going to start talking about contentious decisions which happened on the pitch because I've not seen them.

"I'm not trying to be evasive, I'm trying to be practical and factually correct. Once I've seen them I will be better educated.

"There is no point asking about anyone's sending off or anything else until we have seen the coverage."

He also praised Jones, who as third-choice goalkeeper is now in line to play in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final, and Carroll for their contributions.

"I think Brad had a bit of a psychological advantage because the two (he and Yakubu) had been at Middlesbrough together," he said.

"It was a great first contribution in the Premier League to save a penalty, I am sure he will remember that.

"I think Andy is very confident and got what he deserved. He worked really hard and scored a fantastic header - I don't think confidence is a problem."

Blackburn manager Steve Kean felt aggrieved at Liverpool's winner as he felt Grant Hanley had been fouled immediately prior to Carroll's header.

However, he had no qualms about the yellow card shown to Jones for fouling Yakubu for the second penalty.

"I have looked at the referee's decision, I can understand why he has not sent the sub goalie off because when the ball has spun up I think the referee thinks it is going to go to Liverpool player, so it doesn't prevent a goalscoring opportunity," he said.

"The last goal Hanley is trying to get back on to his feet and Martin Skrtel has pulled him down so he can't get back on his feet and pick up Carroll, who he was marking."

On the performance he added: "You can't afford to miss penalties but when we got the second one and we scored for the equaliser I thought it was all us and we were chasing the third goal.

"The only way Liverpool were going to get something was on the break or a set-play and we needed that whistle or flag to go up for a blatant foul."

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE