Blackburn 4-3 Arsenal

By Nabil HassanBBC Sport
Blackburn's victory lifted the early-season gloom for manager Steve Kean

Blackburn Rovers eased the pressure on manager Steve Kean as they came from behind to beat Arsenal in a thrilling match at Ewood Park.

Rovers' first win of the campaign lifted them off the bottom of the table to earn Kean, who was the target of a modest pre-match protest, some much-needed breathing space while counterpart Arsene Wenger has seen his side lose three times already.

It was an end-to-end encounter in which defending appeared to be a lost art for long periods.

Arsenal were twice in front but two own goals and a determined Blackburn comeback sealed victory for the home side.

The Gunners took the early initiative though, when Gervinho fired past Paul Robinson from 12 yards but Blackburn equalised through debutant Yakubu's deft finish.

Arsenal's Mikel Arteta scored from just inside the box after Aaron Ramsey's intelligent cutback before Alex Song put the ball into his own net from Ruben Rochina's free-kick.

Yakubu tapped in Steven Nzonzi's shot across goal for 3-2, then Laurent Koscielny bundled past his own keeper after Martin Olsson's fine run and cross.

Marouane Chamakh's late headed consolation completed the scoring but Arsenal had late chances to rescue a point and had a last-gasp appeal for a penalty turned down.

The Rovers manager maintained throughout the week that he was the right man to turn around the club's fortunes, and this result will go some way to convincing the sceptics that he is up to the job.

His side were seemingly beaten at the break, being comprehensively outplayed and lucky to be only 2-1 down.

Woeful Blackburn defending allowed Song to find the totally unmarked Gervinho, whose decent low strike took a slight deflection on its way past Robinson in the home goal.

But Rovers were posing their usual threat from set pieces, with Chris Samba twice heading wide when he should have hit the target while at the other end Robinson was keeping them in the game with saves from Andrey Arshavin and Gervinho.

Just as Arsenal seemed on the verge of adding to their lead, Blackburn grabbed a lifeline with debutant Yakubu scoring his first goal for the club with a deft finish past the on-rushing Wojciech Szczesny following a fine pass from David Hoilett.

Crucially though, Blackburn could not hold on until half-time. Arteta restored the visitors' lead, smashing the ball into the net from the edge of the box for his first Arsenal goal after Ramsey's pass.

Kean's men showed great spirit after the restart and totally outmuscled a fragile Arsenal unit in the second half.

They were back in the game soon after the break in admittedly fortuitous circumstances after Song turned Rochina's free-kick into his own net.

The goal proved to be the catalyst they needed to mount a stunning comeback.

Wenger says Arsenal lacked confidence

Moments later Rovers should have taken the lead with Rochina firing straight at Szczesny when one-on-one following Hoilett's superb pass.

But Blackburn's amazing turnaround was not to be denied. The marginally onside Yakubu tapped in from close range following Nzonzi's wayward shot across goal.

Their 3-2 lead soon became 4-2 when Arsenal put the ball into their own net for the second time. Koscielny turned Olsson's cross past Szczesny following a fine run from his own half by the Blackburn man.

Moments later, though, Blackburn were thankful to Robinson after he pulled off a superb reaction save from Robin van Persie's powerful header.

Any hopes the home fans might have had of a relaxing few minutes were dashed when Arsenal pulled one back through Chamakh who headed van Persie's cross past Robinson from close range.

The goal breathed life into Arsenal's challenge and in stoppage time they should have been level but Per Mertesacker inexplicably headed over.

The drama continued, with substitute Theo Walcott going down under Robinson's challenge. Despite the howls of protest coming from the visiting fans, referee Andre Mariner waved away appeals for a penalty.

Rovers survived Arsenal's late flurry and a rumoured post-match protest from some of Blackburn's fans never materialised.

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