Sunday, 22 January 2012

Cahill Gets Lucky Break To End Goal Drought

STEVE KEAN took charge of Blackburn just days before Tim Cahill last scored for Everton.

At that point in December 2010, neither man knew the hellish year they would face.

For Cahill, his crown as one of the Premier League’s most prolific scoring midfielders slipped from his head as his surprising drought refused to come to an end.

For Kean, his rookie tenure as Rovers boss went from bad to worse as a shortage of results brought an overflow of scorn from his own fans.

With the helping hand of Lady Luck – in the guise of Marouane Fellaini’s arm – Cahill finally ended his 13 months of misery.

And despite failing to collect the win after David Goodwillie’s leveller should have been added to, even Kean may feel the tide is finally turning for Rovers.

Kean said: “I think justice was done in the end. We felt Everton scored against the run of play.

“We saw the ball come off Fellaini’s chest and hit his arm but it was tough for the referee because he was in a bad position.”

A home win – with just ten men – over Fulham last week and now a point at Everton. There is light at the end of the tunnel for Blackburn.

Even the absence of the suspended leading scorer Yakubu failed to throw them out of kilter here, as others took up the task of goal hunting.

Step forward David Dunn. Three times in the opening 11 minutes Blackburn’s inspiration got a sight of Tim Howard’s goal and each time he was foiled.

His first shot was too weak to bother Howard, his second was blocked and his third was a stinger that the American held.

With Everton back-pedalling, Scott Dann got involved. The big defender won his header at a corner and watched as the ball appeared to be dropping in.

But Leighton Baines, one of the smallest players on the pitch, got enough height into his goal-line jump to head the ball against the post and away. Everton knew their luck was in – and boy was it in. Not since Thierry Henry’s heart-breaking handball against the Republic of Ireland has a ref missed such a blatant use of the arm.

Even Fellaini must have been waiting to hear the whistle as he turned away to celebrate Cahill’s long-awaited strike.
For the big midfielder clearly handled after seeing his header saved by Paul Robinson.

The ball dropped to Cahill and he prodded past Dunn, who had, bizarrely, remained on the goal-line to leave Everton’s attackers onside.

Rovers knew they had been Dunn-in. And if that wasn’t enough, even the goal frame was conspiring against Rovers.

When a deflection from Goodwillie’s shot dropped at Dunn’s feet, he finally beat Howard but his shot bounced back off the upright.

Deflated Blackburn limped to the interval surviving a Baines free-kick that skimmed past the post and a header Cahill guided over when he seemed more likely to score his second of the game.

Darron Gibson was hardly pulling up trees on his home debut, with Radosav Petrovic dominating him in midfield and nearly scoring with a low drive in the 61st minute.

But luck finally swung Rovers’ way. Morten Gamst Pedersen’s long punt in the box was missed by Howard, under pressure from Steven N’Zonzi.

Then a comical pinball moment occurred with the ball hitting Shane Duffy on the head and flying towards Cahill on the line.

He should have headed clear. Instead he chested down and tried to smack the ball to safety.

Goodwillie closed him down though and was rewarded when Cahill’s clearance smashed against his shins and rebounded home for the equaliser.

Everton boss David Moyes admitted: “I think we were fortunate to get a point.

“Blackburn had the better of the first half and we were certainly fortunate to be one-nil up.

“I thought it was not one of our better days and I was disappointed we could not hold the lead.”

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