Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rovers Waste Glorious Chances

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rovers Waste Glorious Chances

Article excerpt

Byline: By Ian Parkes

Blackburn manager Mark Hughes believes Manchester United midfielder Alan Smith was fortunate not to be sent off in an explosive Carling Cup clash.

Rovers head to Old Trafford for the second leg of the semi-final still in with a chance of reaching Cardiff's Millennium Stadium following a 1-1 draw at Ewood Park.

Hughes' side wasted two glorious chances inside the opening five minutes, before Louis Saha scored his fourth goal in the tournament this season.

That came on the half hour, but within five minutes Blackburn were level when Morten Gamst Pedersen scored a stunning equaliser for his eighth goal of the season and his third in successive starts.

But a few moments later all hell broke loose following a crunching Smith tackle from behind on Robbie Savage.

Referee Rob Styles ended up booking Smith for the initial challenge, United striker Wayne Rooney as he followed through, as well as Savage for grabbing the England striker in a headlock.

Those three cautions were among eight overall in an occasionally tempestuous affair, although Styles was also a little too card happy.

When asked whether Smith should have received his marching orders, Hughes replied: "Possibly. Maybe another referee would have given it a different interpretation. I was more upset that he booked Robbie as well when he was on the deck.

"I appreciate it can be difficult when there are lots of bodies on the ground and it is hard to see what is going on."

Rovers are now unbeaten in their last five meetings with United, including a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford in the Premiership in September when Pedersen scored both goals.

Hughes knows the return leg holds no fears, adding: "Overall we are reasonably happy.

"We would have preferred to have won our home tie, but we have won at Old Trafford before and we will have to do it again. …

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