Premier League - Rovers riding high after win
Blackburn Rovers moved up to seventh in the Premier League table with a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at Ewood Park.
A Gabriel Tamas own goal and a stunning strike from David Hoillett sent Rovers into the upper reaches of the table just days after manager Steven Kean signed a new long-term contract at the club.
Kean has now won half of his eight matches in charge since taking over following the sacking of Sam Allardyce, although Rovers leaping up five positions with this win perhaps says as much about the congested nature of mid-table as it does about club owners Venkys' decision to change their manager.
Roberto di Matteo's side, however, remain just three points above the relegation zone, having won just one of their last seven league games.
Rovers dominated the possession in the first half and forced several good saves from Baggies goalkeeper Boaz Myhill, but it was West Brom defender Tamas who opened the scoring when he inexplicably headed past his own goalkeeper in the run-up to half-time.
It was the second own goal West Brom have conceded this season, following on from Scott Carson's mistake against Fulham back in October, and Myhill has ousted the former England keeper out of the starting line-up in recent games.
The former Hull shot-stopper proved his worth in the team with a series of high-quality saves as Rovers took the game to West Brom.
Myhill parried solid strikes from Martin Olsson and Chris Samba in quick succession around the half-hour mark before making a good block at the near post from Roque Santa Cruz, who was making his second Rovers debut following his loan move from Manchester City.
The half was book-ended by chances for West Brom - Peter Odemwingie drew a good save from Paul Robinson in the first minute after Morten Gamst Pedersen gave the ball away, while Paul Scharner was played in by Chris Brunt just before the break only to be denied by the sliding Chris Samba - but it looked at half-time as though this match would be best remembered for 19 different nationalities being represented in the starting line-ups.
That changed two minutes after the restart when Hoillett picked the ball up, surged forward at speed, evaded Tamas and fired an unerring rocket of a shot past Myhill. It was the 20-year-old's first ever Premier League goal, and just reward for a fine performance.
West Brom's best hope for a comeback could be found in Jerome Thomas, who made Rovers full-back Michel Salgado look every one of his 35 years of age as he consistently got the better of him down the wing. The former Arsenal trainee forced Robinson into tipping one well-struck effort around the post and coming quickly off his line to smother another.
The Baggies were denied a penalty when Rovers debutant Jermaine Jones brought down Odemwingie just inside the area, only for referee Mark Clattenburg to award a free-kick instead.
With Roman Bednar's 76th-minute introduction this fixture set a new Premier League record for the most different nationalities on the field with 22, but none of the cosmopolitan 13 who appeared for West Brom could find a way through Rovers' defence, and they look set for a nervous remainder of the season..