x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

McCarthy strikes rescues Rovers

The Blackburn substitute Benni McCarthy's headed equaliser in the third minute of injury-time salvaged a draw at home to Middlesbrough.

The Blackburn goalscorer Benni McCarthy celebrates his injury-time equaliser against Middlesbrough.
The Blackburn goalscorer Benni McCarthy celebrates his injury-time equaliser against Middlesbrough.

The Blackburn substitute Benni McCarthy's headed equaliser in the third minute of injury-time salvaged a draw at home to Middlesbrough. Afonso Alves scored the opener in the 74th minute after outpacing the veteran centre-back Andre Ooijer and turning to fire past the Rovers goalkeeper Paul Robinson. However, McCarthy rose highest at a late corner to head in at the near post, although the main talking point of the match was Tuncay Sanli's wrongly disallowed overhead kick in the first half. A draw was the least the hosts deserved after dominating throughout and hitting the post through Roque Santa Cruz in the first half. Rovers seized the initiative early on when Carlos Villanueva let fly from outside the penalty area but his shot took a slight deflection and went narrowly wide. Jeremie Aliadiere then smashed a volley against the crossbar from Chris Riggott's hopeful ball forward as the Blackburn defence appealed for offside against the inactive Alves. The home side continued to press forward but Matt Derbyshire bobbled his shot into the ground after Santa Cruz cleverly knocked down Danny Simpson's cross. Santa Cruz should have made the breakthrough Rovers deserved in the 16th minute when he was put through by Stephen Warnock but although his shot beat Turnbull it rebounded back off the far post. Against the run of play Tuncay buried an overhead kick past Robinson, making his 300th club career start, but he was wrongly flagged for offside. Just before half-time Villanueva was too slow as he considered when to shoot from Warnock's through-ball into the penalty area and David Wheater got across to tackle. Less than 30 seconds after the restart Villanueva was in the action again, curling a left-foot shot wide from 30 yards. Middlesbrough's first shot of the second half saw Alves cut inside from the right only for his effort to be deflected for a corner. Alves chased a hopeful ball over the top but beat Ooijer to it, turned the 34-year-old defender and fired past Robinson. But in the third minute of injury time South Africa striker McCarthy rose highest at the near post to head home Emerton's corner for the equaliser.

*PA Sport