Ewood Park has probably never seen so much action in 25 minutes. A red card and two goals all under the half-hour mark in a vital match for the home side as they continue to flirt with relegation. The fleeting figure of Maxi Rodriguez spear headed the visitor’s blistering start. Craig Bellamy returning to his old stomping ground of one year where he scored 17 league goals, was found with a pin point 90-yard ping from stand-in skipper Martin Skrtel. He reached the by-line and delivered on a plate to Maxi who converted his second of the season against Rovers after only 13 minutes. Only three minutes later he doubled his side’s tally with an astute finish after Jonjo Shelvey and then Andy Carroll both had shots blocked. In cruise control Liverpool found themselves two in front in the first half for the first time this season. Then, 19 year-old right back John Flanagan underweighted a back pass to Liverpool’s deputy keeper Alexander Doni. Standing in for suspended Pepe Reina who watched from the side-lines, Doni brought down Junior Hoillet and received the same colour card as him teammate. The first time in Premier League history that a team has had two goal keepers sent off in the same season. Step forward Brad Jones. Many believed he should’ve been the man in the first place to replace Reina but nonetheless, his first Premier League touch for the Red’s was to foil a tame Yakubu penalty. A salute to the travelling Kop and a point to the heavens followed as Jones dedicated the save to his son Luca who died in December of leukaemia. Yakubu nine minutes later however got his self on the score sheet, unmarked; he tucked a neat header inside the post from a David Dunn delivery.
Throwing a two goal lead away is something Liverpool are familiar to having suffered recently at QPR. Then the ever willing lone striker Yakubu turned former Middlesbrough teammate Jones’ night upside down. He closed down the Australian international and blocked his clearance leaving the ball relentlessly spinning in the cold Lancashire air making Jones spill the seemingly routine catch. Yakubu pounced and was bundled over by Jones, winning another penalty this time converting as Kenny Dalglish’s heart must’ve been skipping beats as he feared another goalkeeper seeing a card, this time fortunately and correctly it was only yellow. This left Liverpool recalling Peter Galacsi from Hull as their number two for Saturday’s showdown with Everton at Wembley.
After the equaliser the home side gathered momentum and looked the more likely out of the two sides to snatch the spoils. However in the final exchanges it was Liverpool who pressed. A corner was cleared to Sebastan Coates who flung in a hopeful centre which was met by substitute and Wembley hopeful Daniel Agger to find Andy Carroll who, almost in slow motion, powered a header past the hapless Paul Robinson to send the travelling fans into delirium as Carroll scored only his second headed goal for Liverpool, the first being a year ago against Manchester City. This will come as a timely boost for Carroll and Liverpool who have their first league win since early March against, Everton. After the blue half of Merseyside swept away Sunderland on Monday and Liverpool ending their losing slump, the semi-final which is controversially to be shown on ESPN, is sure to be a hotly contested encounter.