Blackburn 1-2 Wolves

By Ian SingletonBBC Sport
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Victory was Wolves' first at Ewood Park for 19 years

Wolverhampton Wanderers came from behind to beat an injury-hit Blackburn side on the opening day of the season.

Rovers went ahead when Jason Roberts set up debutant Mauro Formica, whose low strike went beyond Wayne Hennessey.

But Wolves hit back straight away as Steven Fletcher headed home Matt Jarvis's cross at the far post.

Stephen Ward scored the winner after the break, amid frantic scenes after Kevin Doyle missed a penalty given for Michel Salgado's foul on Jarvis.

Wolves were able to capitalise on a Rovers defence missing three key players.

Ryan Nelsen and Chris Samba were already out injured when Gael Givet fell ill on the eve of the game.

McCarthy satisfied with away win

That meant 19-year-old Scotland international Grant Hanley and midfielder Steven Nzonzi were paired at centre-back.

And Wolves targeted Nzonzi in particular, unsettling him with a barrage of long balls and crosses.

Fletcher and Kevin Doyle, who played despite pre-match concerns over a knee injury, also linked up well in attack to stretch Blackburn, with marauding support from Jarvis and Stephen Hunt on the wings.

Roger Johnson took the captain's armband on his Wolves debut, but both defences struggled early on.

The pace of Martin Olsson and Junior Hoilett down the wings created space for Rovers and led to an opening spell dominated by corners.

Blackburn thought they had taken an early lead on eight minutes after Pedersen crossed for Hoilett.

His close-range shot was saved by Hennessey who just managed to keep it from going over the line.

On 20 minutes a long ball over the top was held up by Roberts who managed to wriggle free with strength and skill, before setting up Formica.

The Argentina international, who was signed in January, found himself free on the left of the penalty area, and shot low across the keeper, and the goal fired up Wolves who stepped up the pressure.

Just two minutes later the visitors were allowed far too much space as Jarvis crossed for former Burnley striker Fletcher to head home at the far post.

We need more bodies - Kean

The rest of the first half was a scrappy affair, with neither team having the cutting edge or quality to go ahead.

Two minutes after the restart, Salgado brought down Jarvis inside the area for a penalty.

Robinson saved Doyle's tame spot-kick, but after a scramble the ball came back to Ward who struck a sweet left-footed volley into the corner from the edge of the area.

Wolves now looked more solid defensively, and were able to counter-attack well.

Blackburn threw on new signing David Goodwillie on 72 minutes, and he had a late shot which sailed wide. Their best hope was from corners but there was no way through.

But Wolves ended the game well in control to take a deserved three points.

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy:

"Good start but let's not get carried away 37 to go. We've got tough games ahead.

"The game was end to end. Once we scored in the second half I felt we controlled the game. That's something we've been working on.

"I am sure Steve [Kean] will be bemoaning his luck at Samba's injury and losing [Phil] Jones.

"We made the most of it. Doyle and Fletcher are both good players. They were great today and caused the two centre backs real problems."

Blackburn manager Steve Kean:

"We are bitterly disappointed because we had a great pre season.

"Losing Gael Givet at the very last minute, Steven Nzonzi had to go back there and play there for us for the first time.

"I thought he did well considering it was a partnership thrown together at the last minute due to illness.

"11 players have left the club and we've had three in.

"We need to strengthen in different areas and make sure we have a competitive squad."

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