Last-gasp winner gives 10 man Liverpool victory

Andy Carroll snatched a last-gasp winner to hand 10-man Liverpool a welcome 3-2 victory at beleaguered Blackburn at Ewood Park on Tuesday night.

A dramatic clash saw Kenny Dalglish’s side storm ahead thanks to a Maxi Rodriguez double only to be pegged back by a brace from Rovers striker Yakubu.

The frontman saw a penalty saved in the first half by substitute goalkeeper Brad Jones, who was called upon when Alexander Doni, deputising for the suspended Pepe Reina, was handed his marching orders for a foul on Junior Hoilett to leave the Reds staring at a goalkeeping problem just four days before their FA Cup semi-final against Everton.

Jones, on his Premier League debut for the Reds, kept out Yakubu’s first spot-kick but could not do the same with his second after the break, with the Nigerian having already pulled one back after nodding home a David Dunn free-kick.

The encounter looked destined for a stalemate but Carroll was the hero for Liverpool in stoppage time, heading the winner after Daniel Agger flicked on Sebastian Coates’ long ball.

The triumph halts a run of four matches without success for the Merseysiders, while Steve Kean’s men remain rooted in the Premier League relegation zone after failing to see rewards for a gritty display.

Rodriguez, a bit-part player at best under Dalglish, made it four goals in just eight league games this season – and 14 in his last 20 appearances in all competitions going back to last April.

Martin Skrtel’s long ball from well inside his own penalty area reached Craig Bellamy on the right and he charged forward before delivering an inch-perfect cross for the Argentinian to convert with a trademark close-range finish.

Rovers barely had time to recover before he struck again, having benefited from the industry of Jonjo Shelvey.

The Liverpool midfielder robbed David Dunn and ran 50 yards to force Paul Robinson to parry his low shot into the path of Carroll.

His effort was blocked by Bradley Orr into the path of Rodriguez but once again the Reds’ Argentinian was in the right place at the right time to smash in a first-time volley with his weaker left foot.

But Liverpool’s season has been anything but straightforward, winning the Carling Cup but seeing their league form take a dive, and events in the latter stages of the first half proved that.

Jon Flanagan, who had already been booked for fouling Marcus Olsson, left a backpass hopelessly short and Junior Hoilett seized on it only to be brought down by Doni, who was immediately shown the red card.

April 10th holds bad memories for Doni as exactly five years ago he conceded seven playing for Roma against Manchester United.

Jones, with one appearance apiece in the Carling Cup and Europa League last season, was brought on for Flanagan with effectively 65 minutes to prepare for Wembley having last played for the first team in December 2010.

He began well, however, by saving Yakubu’s weak penalty but was beaten 11 minutes into his Premier League debut when the unmarked Yakubu headed in Dunn’s free-kick after Bellamy had needlessly handled.

Jones spent much of the half-time interval getting some much-needed practise but at the start of the second half Liverpool’s familiar problems resurfaced once more as Carroll headed wide Bellamy’s corner from three yards at the far post.

The work during the break did not seem to have helped Jones much, however, as when he smashed Skrtel’s backpass straight at Yakubu he palmed away the looping ball instead of catching it and in attempting to recover he brought down the Nigerian.

Referee Anthony Taylor was lenient in showing a yellow card but Yakubu was less so, drilling his spot-kick straight down the middle.

Jones redeemed himself by tipping over Carroll’s defensive backheader as Blackburn ended the game making all the running, with their need for points far greater.

But for once it was Liverpool who snatched all three points as substitute Daniel Agger flicked on a cross and Carroll powered a header past Robinson to keep Rovers in the bottom three.