Liverpool 1-1 Blackburn

By Phil McNultyChief football writer at Anfield
Morten Gamst Pedersen
Morten Gamst Pedersen's set-piece led to Rovers' opener

Blackburn Rovers lifted the pressure on manager Steve Kean as they battled to a Boxing Day point against Liverpool at Anfield.

Kean has been subjected to fierce hostility from Rovers supporters and his time in charge looked to be coming to a close after successive home defeats by West Bromwich Albion and fellow strugglers Bolton.

But the Scot finally heard cheers from Blackburn fans as they produced a performance of real resilience to earn a draw and offer some light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

Charlie Adam's own goal gave the visitors the lead in first-half stoppage time before Maxi Rodriguez's equaliser early in the second period set the stage for a typical Anfield finale.

Kean aims to build on Anfield point

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish threw captain Steven Gerrard into the fray after 68 minutes for the first time since October following an ankle injury to attempt to force a win, but Blackburn held on in an increasingly frantic closing passage of play.

Rovers goalkeeper Mark Bunn, deputising for the injured Paul Robinson, saved brilliantly from Andy Carroll in the dying seconds and, from the resulting corner, teenage debutant Adam Henley made a miraculous goalline clearance from Daniel Agger.

Blackburn remain bottom of the Premier League but the performance justified their manager's faith in his players.

For Liverpool, this was another bitter Anfield disappointment to add to previous draws against Sunderland, Norwich City and Swansea.

And for all the money Dalglish has lavished on his strike force, the grim statistics read the Reds have failed to score two goals at home since the victory against Wolves in September.

Liverpool's supporters spent the early stages noisily registering their support for Luis Suarez after he was handed an eight-match ban and fined £40,000 by the FA after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

The Uruguayan responded with a typically energetic first-half display that brought a succession of attempts on goal but none that tested Bunn.

Dalglish rues missed Liverpool chances

Liverpool came closest to breaking through Blackburn's disciplined ranks after 26 minutes when Carroll had a chance six yards out but was blocked by the diving Bunn.

With the interval approaching and a growing sense of frustration inside a subdued Anfield, Rovers took a shock lead when Adam deflected Morten Gamst Pedersen's corner beyond the reach of home goalkeeper Pepe Reina at the near post.

The Reds emerged after the break in the manner of a side stung by the words of their manager and responded with an equaliser eight minutes after the restart. Defender Skrtel was the creator, lofting the ball to the far post where Maxi rose unmarked to head in.

Rovers were penned back in front of the Kop and Dalglish decided to introduce talisman Gerrard for the tiring Adam to push for the victory.

It has been a rearguard action for Kean's men, but with 12 minutes left Blackburn created, and wasted, their best opportunity. Dunn won possession and weaved his way into the area only to shoot wide.

Carroll had not had many opportunities to make his mark, but he was only inches away with header as Bunn stood rooted to the spot.

Gerrard then played in Stewart Downing on the angle, but his side-foot effort was too close to Bunn and he was able to claim comfortably. Downing's header brought another save from Bunn after he was picked out by Craig Bellamy, on as substitute for Maxi, at the far post.

In a grandstand finish, Bunn and Henley emerged as Blackburn's heroes to finally give Kean some respite from his troubles.

Live text commentaryexternal-link