10-man Blackburn beats Fulham 3-1

Blackburn overcame an early sending off to beat Fulham 3-1 on

Saturday and climb out of the Premier League relegation zone for

the first time in four months.

Ayegbeni Yakubu earned his first red card in his nine-year

career in English football midway through the first half, but

Blackburn still went ahead 2-0 after Morten Gamst Pedersen and

David Dunn struck either side of the interval.

Damien Duff pulled one back for Fulham, but substitute Mauro

Formica sealed Rovers’ fourth league win of the season with a shot

from about a dozen yards (meters) in the 79th.

The victory moved Blackburn out of last place into 17th, but

with Queens Park Rangers and Wigan still to play this weekend.

While it could give under-fire manager Steve Kean some respite,

many fans showed their displeasure with the team’s performances by

staying at home as just 18,003 turned up at Ewood Park, the worst

league crowd for many years.

Those that stayed away, however, missed an inspired performance

from Kean’s side, which was spurred into action after Yakubu’s

dismissal.

Bobby Zamora had just planted a header onto the angle of bar and

post from Duff’s right-wing cross when the complexion of the game

suddenly changed. Referee Anthony Taylor brandished the red card

after Yakubu caught Danny Murphy on his right knee with a studs-up

challenge.

It means Rovers will be without their leading scorer for the

next three matches, all in the league against Everton, Newcastle

and Arsenal.

Despite that, Rovers went into the break with the lead as Fulham

showed little invention with the extra man.

Zamora did come close to turning home a low ball into the

six-yard box from Moussa Dembele, and Paul Robinson made a superb

save six minutes from the break, clawing away a goal-bound header

from Philippe Senderos after the defender was allowed to rise

unchecked on to a free kick from Murphy.

But in the fourth minute of injury time Pedersen stroked home

his third goal of the season, curling a low 20-yard free kick

beyond the outstretched grasp of David Stockdale after Bryan Ruiz

had brought down Dunn.

Blackburn doubled its lead just 56 seconds after the break.

Steven Nzonzi’s initial drive inside the area was blocked by

John Arne Riise, but the rebound fell to Dunn who struck a powerful

shot beyond Stockdale for his first goal since Feb. 5 last

year.

Fulham was finally roused, and four minutes later thought it had

pulled one back, only for Clint Dempsey to be narrowly flagged

offside in heading home the loose ball after Robinson had initially

palmed away a stinging effort from Riise.

Less than six minutes later, though, Fulham was back in the

game.

Murphy played a pass out towards Duff, who was outside the area

and 20 yards from goal at that point. But he eased his way into the

box and from an acute angle stroked a right-foot drive beyond a

static Robinson for his fifth goal of the season.

Rovers, though, should have restored their two-goal cushion in

the 65th minute, only for Stockdale to beat away Junior Hoilett’s

12-yard effort after being teed up by Pedersen.

But 69th-minute substitute Formica finally beat Stockdale after

being played in by Nzonzi.