Middlesbrough 0-1 Blackburn Rovers: Joe Rothwell strikes after Boro penalty shout turned down

Report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash between Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers at the Riverside Stadium as Joe Rothwell’s goal gives visitors victory

By Matt Storey

Sunday 24 January 2021 18:12, UK

Joe Rothwell’s second-half strike handed Blackburn a controversial 1-0 Championship victory at Middlesbrough.

Rothwell picked out the bottom corner from Harvey Elliott’s cross on 63 minutes to give Rovers a lead they never looked like relinquishing – and that they should have added to with numerous chances squandered.

But the real talking point came after just 13 minutes as Jarrad Branthwaite’s studs raked down Dael Fry’s face as he went for a header in the Rovers box

Branthwaite was lucky to stay on the pitch for the challenge, which went unpunished despite the remonstrations of Boro’s players and the fury of boss Neil Warnock in the dugout – Fry left the pitch with a nasty gash just under his eye.

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The victory lifts Tony Mowbray’s Rovers up to ninth spot, six points adrift of the play-offs, while Neil Warnock’s Boro remain three points outside the top six in seventh.


How Rovers secured a vital three points.

The visitors had the first sight of goal through Adam Armstrong, who fizzed an effort wide of Marcus Bettinelli’s far post in the opening stages.

But the first real action of the game came in Rovers’ penalty area after 13 minutes – and it left Warnock incensed on the touchline. Fry was caught by the high boot of Branthwaite as he looked to get on the end of a cross, leaving him with a nasty gash under his eye.

Battered and bruised @Daelfry1 pic.twitter.com/O4cbo1ykiA

It was a rash challenge from the Everton loanee, who could have had few complaints if he been sent for an early bath as well as giving away a spot-kick. But referee Dean Whitestone surprisingly waved away their appeals as Boro’s players surrounded him. Warnock was raging in his technical area and the fact Fry was unable to continue only compounded his anger.

Other than that, it was a first half that saw defences rule the roost. Britt Assombalonga was the only Boro man to really test Thomas Kaminski in the Blackburn goal, as the Belgian tipped the striker’s fierce free-kick over the bar, while Marc Bola’s low drive on the stroke of half-time was nearly diverted into the bottom corner by George Saville.

It was Boro who came out firing after the break and Marcus Tavernier who looked to take the game by the scruff of the neck. He shifted the ball onto his left foot inside the box and fired in a low drive, which the impressive Kaminski pushed behind.

The hosts went even closer just after the hour-mark as Kaminski saved Jonny Howson’s header from close range, only to see the ball fall straight to Nathan Wood. He was slightly off balance and with the goal gaping, saw his strike hit the post and bounce clear.

They were made to regret that miss almost immediately. Elliott played a neat one-two with Armstrong before cutting the ball across the box for the onrushing Rothwell. Not a single Boro player reacted to the ball and the midfielder had all the time in the world to pick his spot in the bottom corner and fire Rovers ahead.

It was a different game after the goal with Rovers full of confidence and Boro shocked. The visitors should have made the points safe long before six minutes of stoppage-time was added on.

Barry Douglas pounced on a loose ball in the box but could only lift his shot well over the bar, before top scorer Armstrong failed to beat Bettinelli with a chipped effort when through on goal. A frustrating afternoon in front of goal continued for Armstrong as he tried to bend the ball into the top corner after a quick counterattack, only to see it miss the target.

Boro failed to create a single opening after falling behind and Warnock will no doubt be angry at that, even if he directed his ire at Branthwaite at full-time following the controversial first-half challenge.

Man of the match – Darragh Lenihan

Sky Sports’ Lee Hendrie

“Blackburn captain Darragh Lenihan has led by example and has not put a foot wrong. It’s been one of those games where we have not seen enough of the creative threat but Lenihan has shone.”

What the managers said

Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock: “Absolutely [a penalty]. 100 per cent [a red card]. From that moment on I didn’t even want to be on the bench after seeing the horrific injury. I don’t think the lad meant to do it but it’s a red card and a penalty.

“The whole game has been decided by the officials today. It should be decided by people who know the laws and the rules. He’s in a good position, the linesman should give it if he doesn’t.

“The doctor says he’s within a quarter of an inch of losing his eye – that is how serious it is. I feel sick for the player and the result. We don’t get a penalty, don’t get a sending off and lose one of our best players. It’s just travesty.”

Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray: “We were playing against a team who go for man for man, ask questions of your ability to copy with the physicality today and it’s a young team – a really young team, so I’m delighted for them.

“It’s a tough place to come. I can’t stand here today and say I enjoy watching that football but we have to scrap. Today we rolled our sleeves up and came to the party. They did that today and there were performances who weren’t looking to play nice flicks and passes, but win some headers and win some headers.”

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