Returning Allardyce rues Kalinic miss

Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce could not resist a return to the dug-out and saw his team almost treat him to a win over Liverpool on Saturday.

Allardyce had spent much of the match in the directors’ box following his heart surgery last week, but he ventured down to the dug-out for the closing minutes of the 0-0 Ewood Park clash.

He said: “I felt okay until the last few minutes, they were a heart-stopper.

“But in those minutes we could have won it. Nikola Kalinic was through, and should have at least got his effort on target. He was flattened by (Jose) Reina just outside the box, but he still should have rolled the shot on target.

“I was delighted with the way the team played. It has been a good week for us, beating Chelsea in the Carling Cup as well.

“Considering our lads had played two hours and then penalties in that match, and Liverpool didn’t have a midweek game, I felt it was a great testimony to our fitness.

“We could easily have lost it in the second half, and I felt we deserved the bit of luck when (David) Ngog hit the bar.

“But there was also another chance we should have put away when Franco (Di Santo) was clear in the box. That is the difference between the big boys at the top and teams like us, they take those chances.

“But considering Liverpool are a great club, we restricted them to just that chance against the bar. As the game went on we put Keith Andrews on to man-mark Steven Gerrard, he was the best player out there.

“And that meant he could not get the space to produce a bit of magic to win it for them.”

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez admitted his disappointment with the result.

He said: “We did not play well in the first half, but after the break we were much better. We were certainly better in possession than we had been in the last game when we won at Everton.

“We need to win, though, in these situations. We are getting better but we know we have to do better.”

Benitez revealed that Liverpool are likely to have Fernando Torres fit for the Champions League match on Wednesday against Fiorentina, with Alberto Aquilani also expected to start the match.

Benitez defended his decision, again, not to bring on Aquilani from the bench.

He said: “He is fit now, the ankle injury has healed. But I feel this was a difficult, physical place to come and not the right time to throw him on.

“He will be better getting his chance in a home match with our fans behind him. It is a difficult decision when someone is not fully match fit, he could make a mistake and it would set him back.”