Blackburn Rovers brushed away weak Birmingham to move within a point of the Championship’s top two after winning their sixth game in a row.
Rovers took full advantage of second-placed Bournemouth’s setback at Middlesbrough earlier on Saturday. With goals from John Buckley, Reda Khadra, and two from in-form striker Ben Brereton Diaz.
Buckley put Rovers in front when Matija Sarkic parried Ryan Nyambe’s cross straight to the unmarked midfielder. And Khadra doubled the advantage following a through pass from Darragh Lenihan.
After being upended by Sarkic, Brereton Diaz scored from the penalty spot. And then added to his league tally by nodding in a cross from Dan Butterworth who had hit the crossbar minutes before.
Blues dropped to 17th place following a disappointing performance. However, Chuks Aneke, who joined from Charlton in the summer did hit the crossbar from 25 yards when the score was just 1-0.
Following a slew of Covid-related postponements. The game was one of only five Championship games and only 15 in the whole English Football League to go ahead on Saturday.
Rovers winger Tyrhys Dolan was unable to play due to a positive drug test. But his absence did not dampen their offensive threat as they dominated the game and might have won by more.
After Buckley’s early opening, Scott Wharton headed an excellent chance wide and Sarkic stopped superbly from Joe Rothwell before Khadra’s exquisite second gave Tony Mowbray’s side their eighth win in ten games.
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Between Brereton Diaz’s two goals, Blues showed flashes of life, with Riley McGree and Lukas Jutkiewicz both testing Blackburn goalie Thomas Kaminski.
But the damage had already been done, as the Chile striker extended his hot streak to nine goals in nine games, and he came close to completing a hat-trick late on with an audacious lob that drifted just past.
Since Callum O’Dowda’s goal for Bristol City on November 20, Rovers’ defensive improvements have been just as vital as Brereton Diaz’s goals in their surprising promotion drive, and they have extended their shut-out run to five games, having not surrendered a goal in 500 minutes of play.
Ewood Park remains a stumbling block for Blues, who have won only once in their last 25 visits, while Lee Bowyer’s side has scored just four goals in their last ten away games.
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