x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Roberts eyes Rovers in Europe

Blackburn are aiming for a Europa League place following their 3-0 win over Bolton today, according to goalscorer Jason Roberts.

Steven Nzonzi and Martin Olsson, right, of Blackburn challenge the Bolton forward Kevin Davies.
Steven Nzonzi and Martin Olsson, right, of Blackburn challenge the Bolton forward Kevin Davies.

BLACKBURN // After flirting with the relegation places for the first half of the season, Blackburn are gunning for a Europa League place following this win over Bolton yesterday, according to goal-scorer Jason Roberts. Three points against their Lancashire rivals in a match played in a blizzard at Ewood Park left them with an 11-point cushion to the drop zone. Roberts said: "Today we said we were looking to win the game and look up towardsEurope. We don't want to be looking behind our backs. It's going to be tough but it's better looking up than down." The first goal came from £6million (Dh34.8m) signing Nikola Kalinic four minutes before the break, and second-half strikes from Roberts and Gael Givet ensured Rovers claimed their fourth successive home league win. Sam Allardyce, the Rovers manager, said: "It's our biggest win of the season and we've been threatening for a long time on chances created. We had to withstand a bit of pressure from Bolton in the second half but we did that and did it very well. "We got a clean sheet and three goals and sent the fans home very, very happy. We can look up instead of down now and see how high we can finish." Allardyce was impressed with the contribution from 22-year-old Kalinic, who has taken his time to establish himself in the Rovers team. "Six million for a front man is a drop in the ocean today," said Allardyce. "We decided to go young and invest in someone who can get better and better. Niko has come through and said 'I'm worthy of a place in the side'. "You could see his quality today. I'm delighted for him and I'm delighted for everyone." Kalinic gave Rovers the lead their first-half dominance merited three minutes before the interval. Excellent work from El-Hadji Diouf kept a breakaway move going and Morten Gamst Pedersen squared unselfishly for Kalinic to rifle home. As the snow grew heavier in the second half, Pedersen's corner was not convincingly cleared and Givet hooked it back into the box for Roberts to finish tamely through the hands of the keeper. And Rovers were able to add a third with six minutes remaining when Diouf's free-kick was headed in by Givet for the Frenchman's first goal at Ewood Park. Owen Coyle felt his Bolton players were slow out of the blocks. "First half we didn't get to the performance level we've been at of late," he said. "We'll pick ourselves up and we'll go again."

* PA Sport