Blackburn gave their Premier League survival hopes a shot in the arm after grinding out a hard-working 2-0 victory over Sunderland at Ewood Park.
Steve Kean’s men claimed back-to-back league wins for the first time since November 2010 as they disposed of the Black Cats, who looked below-par throughout.
Junior Hoilett broke the deadlock in the 58th minute, drilling home a rebounded clearance after Simon Mignolet failed to properly deal with Morten Gamst Pedersen’s long throw.
Yakubu then put the win beyond doubt when he latched onto Jason Lowe’s cross four minutes from the final whistle for Rovers’ second.
Kean’s side now sit six points clear of the drop zone having lost just one game in five to give their hopes of dodging the drop a welcome lift.
Players from both sides showed was on their minds as they wore ‘Pray for Muamba’ T-shirts in the warm up.
When the action started Blackburn threatened after only three minutes when Hoilett slipped a pass through to Yakubu – whose shot was only half-saved by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and had it not been for Phil Bardsley getting back to hook clear the ball would have crept inside the near post.
The Olsson brothers, Martin and Marcus, initially looked like posing a threat down the left with the former exchanging passes with his elder brother before racing into the penalty area to shoot from the narrowest of angles and then firing over the rebound.
Grant Hanley flashed a near-post header over from Morten Gamst Pedersen’s set-piece, Hoilett drilled two attempts from a free-kick into the defensive wall and Mauro Formica volleyed wide.
Sunderland’s one half-chance came in the 35th minute when James McClean swung in a pinpoint first-time cross from the left to Fraizer Campbell and only a perfectly-timed tackle from Hanley prevented the striker unleashing a shot from 10 yards.
Blackburn were the first to show in the second half with Formica meeting Pedersen’s cross after the first bounce to fire in a shot which Mignolet turned behind.
But the Sunderland goalkeeper was partly at fault for Rovers’ opener in the 59th minute, although credit must go to Hoilett for his instinctive finish.
Pedersen directed his long throw at the six-yard box but Mignolet’s punch went straight to Hoilett, who volleyed the ball straight back into the net.
Another Pedersen long throw three minutes later saw Scott Dann head just wide of the far post as Rovers tried to press home their advantage.
Martin Olsson produced a crucial tackle to beat Nicklas Bendtner to the ball just three yards out and prevent a certain equaliser but substitute Ji should have levelled things up from close range in the 77th minute from McClean’s centre.
Four minutes from time the result was assured when Rovers substitute Bradley Orr crossed for Yakubu to head home his 14th league goal.
It clinched back-to-back victories for the first time since November 2010 and Rovers’ first successive clean sheets since August that year, further raising hopes of escaping relegation.