FA Cup - Shittu sends Millwall to Wembley

FA Cup, Ewood Park - Blackburn Rovers 0 Millwall 1 (Shittu 42)

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FA Cup - Shittu sends Millwall to Wembley
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Danny Shittu celebrates his winning goal for Millwall at Blackburn in the FA Cup (AFP)

Millwall captain Danny Shittu headed the only goal just before half time as the Lions beat Blackburn to set up an FA Cup semi-final date with Wigan.

Millwall, who beat Rovers 2-0 in the Championship in November, were again the superior side and when Shittu darted ahead of his marker to thump his header beyond Jake Kean, it was no less than the Lions deserved.

Blackburn toiled for an equaliser, but the closest they came was a Leon Best shot that Shane Lowry cleared off the line, as Millwall reached their first FA Cup semi-final since they reached the final in 2004.

While Millwall manager Kenny Jackett was able to name an unchanged starting line-up from Sunday’s dour 0-0 draw at the Den, Blackburn boss Michael Appleton was down to the bare bones of his squad as David Bentley, Bradley Orr and Adam Henley all missed out through injury.

And it showed, as Blackburn failed to show the inventiveness needed to unlock a Millwall defence inspired by Shittu.

Millwall built much of their early season success on defensive stability and, with Shittu at the heart of the Lions’ defence, they always looked comfortable with what Blackburn could throw at the them.

His partnership with Mark Beevers looked impenetrable as Blackburn eventually ran out of ideas against a Millwall side that were better drilled, more disciplined and ultimately hungrier for Wembley than their opponents.

The closest Rovers came in the first half was a deflected Best snap-shot from the edge of the box, which Millwall and Ireland number one David Forde held well. David Dunn also came close with a first-time effort from the edge of the box after Morten Gamst Pedersen had rolled a corner back to the midfielder.

But Millwall were always the slicker going forward and the energetic Chris Taylor twice fired warning shots at Kean’s goal from distance.

Millwall, who may have been awarded a penalty when Jason Lowe appeared to handle, eventually made the breakthrough three minutes before half time when Shittu lost Best in the box, and threw himself at Taylor’s inswinging corner to give Millwall the lead.

Appleton sent on Nuno Gomes at half time but the Portuguese, like strike partner Jordan Rhodes, was isolated for long periods as Shittu and Beevers comfortably dealt with the long balls Blackburn pumped forward.

Blackburn created one clear chance in the second half courtesy of Best, who found some space in the box and seemed odds on to level the game – but his shot was cleared off the line by the alert Shane Lowry.

Taylor could have put the result beyonf doubt in injury time but he diverted the ball wide after substitute John Marquis put him clean through.

But it mattered little as Millwall set up a semi-final with Wigan with the winner set to face Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea in the final in May.

The result means either Millwall or Wigan will qualify for next season's Europa League.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Danny Shittu, Millwall - An absolute rock at the back for Millwall. As he did in the fourth round against Aston Villa, scored and inspired a memorable win for the Lions.

PLAYER RATINGS

Blackburn: Kean 6, Lowe 5, Dann 6, Hanley 6, Martin Olsson 6, King 5, Pedersen 6, Dunn 5, Marcus Olsson 5, Best 7, Rhodes 5. Subs: Gomes 5, Forrester 5.

Millwall: Forde 8; Dunne 7, Shittu 9, Beevers 7, Lowry 7, Taylor 8, Trotter 6, J Smith 7, N'Guessan 6, Hulse 6, Keogh 7. Subs: Abdou 7, Marquis N/A.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS

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