Evertonian jeers fire up Fowler as Olsson puts Blackburn into last 16

Blackburn 1 Everton 0

Robbie Fowler made his first appearance in 10 months and wasted no time in answering the jeers of Everton fans at Ewood Park on Wednesday night.

The former Liverpool striker received the sort of hostile reception he might have anticipated on his Blackburn debut, but showed glimpses of his old form to help his
new club claim a narrow win.

He may not be as mobile as he once was, but the vision is still there, judging by the way he set up Martin Olsson for a 10th minute breakthrough.

Everton manager David Moyes was so disgruntled with his side’s first-half showing that at the interval he sent on Yakubu and Tim Cahill for Marouane Fellaini and Segundo Castillo - the second time in successive games the on-loan midfielder has
failed to last beyond 45 minutes.

Robbie Fowler

Old habits die hard: Fowler (left) makes a nuisance of himself in the Everton box, as Phil Jagielka (centre) and Tim Howard (floored) combine to thwart the former Liverpool idol

It made little immediate difference, though, as Everton continued to struggle for a way through.

Fowler has joined Blackburn on an initial three-month, pay-as-you-play deal. The former England striker was raised as an Everton devotee but made his name as one of Liverpool’s most renowned goalscorers, and the announcement of his name before
kick- off met with a chorus of boos from around 5,000 travelling fans.

He shrugged it aside and confirmation that he meant business was not long in coming.

There had been little threat of a goal when Blackburn suddenly fashioned the opener with a move that underlined Fowler’s enduring awareness.

After picking up a pass from Tugay, Olsson advanced before threading the ball through to Fowler on the edge of the area. A quick turn might have opened up a shooting opportunity, but Fowler sensed his young teammate was better placed for a return pass and rolled it back into his path.

It was perfectly weighted, and Olsson did the rest with a crisp drive that beat Tim Howard at his near post. 

Martin Olsson

Swede dreams: Blackburn's young player of last year, Martin Olsson (right), celebrates putting Rovers one up at Ewood Park

The momentum of such an early breakthrough was checked within seconds as Blackburn goalkeeper Paul Robinson limped off with what appeared to be a calf strain, to be replaced by Jason Brown.

Any disruption barely showed, though, as Rovers continued to force the pace and went close to a second goal in the 20th minute. Keith Treacy found space on the left and tested Howard with a low, angled drive that the keeper turned away with difficulty.
Luck was on Howard’s side as his parry just eluded the onrushing Matt Derbyshire.

Everton had mustered little in reply but at last threatened with two near misses mid-way through the half.

David Moyes

Furious: Everton manager Moyes was unhappy with his side's performance

When Blackburn failed to clear Leon Osman’s 22nd-minute corner, Castillo attempted a repeat of his spectacular long-range strike against Standard Liege, only to see it cannon into a defender and deflect behind.

Phil Jagielka added his aerial expertise to Everton’s attacking endeavours four inutes later with a flashing header that flew narrowly wide from Jack Rodwell’s cross.

Fowler had the perfect chance to silence his detractors behind Howard’s goal in the 29th minute, after Derbyshire had headed the ball into his path 20 yards out.

In his heyday, he may have made a clean enough connection to add another goal to his tally, but not at 33. He swung his once trusty left boot but saw a hopelessly mistimed volley bobble yards wide, much to the amusement of the Everton followers.

The away section almost had something to cheer at the other end five minutes later, as Rodwell once more troubled Blackburn’s defence with a pinpoint delivery from the right.

The towering Fellaini met it with a firm header that sailed inches wide, with Brown scampering across but never looking like getting near it.

There were at least signs of Everton forcing their way back into the tie, but the jeers which greeted the full-time whistle told its own tale of slipshod passing and an overall lack of urgency from Moyes’s side.

BLACKBURN (4-4-2): Robinson (Brown 12min); Simpson, Ooijer, Khizanishvili, Olsson; Villanueva (Santa Cruz 72), Kerimoglu, Warnock, Treacy (Pedersen 74); Derbyshire, Fowler.

Booked: Villanueva, Warnock.

EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Neville, Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott; Rodwell, Castillo (Cahill 46), Fellaini (Yakubu 46), Osman; Vaughan (Baxter 82), Saha.

Booked: Neville, Vaughan.

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

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