Blackburn 1-2 Stoke: Crouch double, Yakubu score
Peter Crouch’s fine goalscoring record against Blackburn Rovers continued after the Stoke City striker netted a superb first-half double to help his side to a 2-1 Premier League victory at Ewood Park.
Crouch went into the game having scored six Premier League goals against Blackburn, making Rovers his most fruitful opponent to face along with Arsenal.
And the 30-year-old went on to net his 100th league goal to open the scoring after 17 minutes before doubling Stoke’s advantage on the stroke of half-time to take his tally against Rovers to eight.
David Goodwillie scored his first Blackburn goal after 69 minutes as the hosts fought back, but Stoke held firm to secure all three points.
Blackburn went into the game with renewed confidence having secured a shock 3-2 victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford on New Year’s Eve.
And the hosts started brightly, with Christopher Samba sending his sixth-minute header crashing against the crossbar.
Rovers had the ball in the back of the net a minute later when Samba got past Ryan Shawcross at the back post to head home a corner, but referee Lee Mason disallowed the goal for a foul on Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen in the build-up.
Steve Kean’s side continued to press and David Dunn exchanged passes with Yakubu on the edge of the box before shooting at Sorensen.
It was Stoke who broke the deadlock, however, when Crouch brought down Jonathan Walters’s chipped cross on his chest, out-muscling Samba in the process, before firing past Mark Bunn.
And Crouch almost added a second moments later, setting himself up for a 25-yard volley which had Bunn scrambling across goal to make the save.
Rovers looked to hit back when a smart interchange on the edge of the box saw Yakubu lay the ball off to Mauro Formica, who squared to Dunn - but his low shot was too close to Sorensen. Soon after Yakubu put a shot wide after turning on the penalty spot.
Stoke then extended their lead with a classic counter-attack, Matthew Etherington bursting down the left flank before chipping a pin-point cross to Crouch who expertly brought the ball down and shot past Bunn.
Crouch twice went close to earning a hat-trick early in the second half, shooting just over with an instinctive volley before seeing a 20-yard drive fly just wide of the upright.
Blackburn then halved the deficit when Grant Hanley's header from a corner looked to be going in but Goodwillie controlled it, eventually poking home after a scramble on the line.
That put the wind in the home side’s sails and Yakubu, who has scored 12 league goals this season, had a point-blank effort cleared off the line by Jonathan Woodgate.
The visitors withstood a late onslaught to record their fourth away win of the season, while Rovers can consider themselves unlucky not to have earned a share of the spoils.
BLACKBURN ROVERS: Bunn, Lowe, Samba, Hanley, Henley, Nzonzi, Formica, Dunn, Petrovic, Pedersen, Yakubu... Subs: Kean, Morris, Givet, Vukcevic, Rochina, Blackman, Goodwillie
STOKE CITY: Sorensen, Woodgate, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Shotton, Whitehead, Whelan, Etherington, Crouch, Walters... Subs: Begovic, Jones, Diao, Pennant, Upson, Delap, Jerome