The result leaves Blues in 18th.BCFC
Goals either side of the break from Adam Armstrong and Bradley Dack proved the difference at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium.
The result leaves Blues in 18th with half of their 46 league matches played in the 2020/21 season.
There were seven changes to the team which took on Derby County in the final game of 2020. Brought in from the start were Mikel San José, Jake Clarke-Salter, Maikel Kieftenbeld, Jonathan Leko and Lukas Jutkiewicz, with all having been introduced from the bench against the Rams. The other two alterations saw Josh Dacres-Cogley and Riley McGree in the XI after both were unused substitutes on Tuesday night.
Proceedings started slowly at St. Andrew’s before a flurry of activity in the tenth minute which resulted in the visitors taking a controversial lead.
Attacking the Gil Merrick, Blues felt aggrieved they were not awarded a spot-kick when Ivan Sanchez went down under a challenge in the penalty area. However, amidst appeals, which referee Gavin Ward ignored, Blackburn broke forward and Adam Armstrong was able to finish on the angle to give Tony Mowbray’s men the lead.
Rovers looked to repeat their breakaway five minutes later but Neil Etheridge comfortably held Harvey Elliott’s shot. The Filipino stopper was in action again shortly after, denying both Armstrong and fellow striker Ben Brereton in one-on-one situations.
Blues responded and came close to levelling in the 37th minute through midfielder Ivan Sunjic. The Croatian’s first-time effort was heading for the corner before Thomas Kaminski scrambled across his goal to intervene with Lukas Jutkiewicz being flagged offside as he converged on the loose ball. This evidently gave Karanka’s men a boost and, after Leko was brought down cynically, Sanchez curled the resulting free-kick narrowly wide as Blues ended the half on the front foot.
Half-time: Blues 0 Blackburn Rovers 1
This was continued after the break with Leko’s thunderbolt whistling the wrong side of the post and Sunjic seeing a powerful header from the second phase of a corner cleared away.
Blues’ pressure on the opposition goal extended beyond the hour mark, but – with the exception of a difficult header that fell to Clarke-Salter - no clear-cut chances came from a period when Blackburn were largely camped in their own half.
The upshot was Karanka turning to his bench and it was one of these substitutes that beat the offside trap to burst clear in the 88th minute. But, fed by Jon Toral, Scott Hogan was just unable to round the on-rushing goalkeeper.
Unfortunately, this proved a pivotal moment as Blackburn reacted to the scare by doubling their advantage in the second minute of stoppage time. Having countered through Tyrhys Dolan, the ball broke to Dack whose whipped strike found the corner to seal the points for the away side.
Blues (4-2-3-1): Neil Etheridge, Josh Dacres-Cogley (Maxime Colin 69), Mikel San José, Jake Clarke-Salter, George Friend, Maikel Kieftenbeld, Ivan Sunjic (Adam Clayton 77), Ivan Sanchez, Riley McGree (Jon Toral 69), Jonathan Leko, Lukas Jutkiewicz (captain) (Scott Hogan 77).
Substitutes not used: Andrés Prieto, Steve Seddon, Harlee Dean, Tate Campbell, Jeremie Bela.
Booking: Sanchez 85.
Blackburn Rovers (4-3-3): Thomas Kaminski, Barry Douglas, Darragh Lenihan (captain), Bradley Johnson, Amari Bell, Lewis Travis (Tom Trybull 69), Jacob Davenport, Harvey Elliott (Bradley Dack 64), Ben Brereton (Joe Rothwell 64), Sam Gallagher, Adam Armstrong (Tyrhys Dolan 84).
Substitutes not used: Aynsley Pears, Hayden Carter, Daniel Pike, Stewart Downing, John Buckley.
Booking: Travis 39, Douglas 81, Armstrong 83.
Referee: Gavin Ward