Blackburn 1-2 Middlesborough: Carrick’s fine start continues
Middlesbrough moved into the play-off places for the first time this season after coming from behind to defeat 10-man Blackburn 2-1 at Ewood Park.
In an even first half, Rovers went ahead thanks to a cool Ryan Hedges finish in the sixth minute, vindicating Blackburn’s ploy of targeting the visitors’ high line.
But the game was turned on its head early in the second half when Boro equalised within a minute of the restart through Marcus Forss’ powerful shot before John Buckley was shown a straight red for an off-the-ball incident four minutes later.
Boro made their numerical advantage count within six minutes as Riley McGree’s stunning volley completed the comeback.
Michael Carrick’s fine start to management continues and the former Manchester United midfielder’s team have won five of their last six.
Blackburn remain third in the league but Boro are only three points behind them and after losing five of their last seven, Rovers will be looking nervously over their shoulder.
Rovers were unchanged from defeat at Sunderland, while Carrick drafted in Matt Crooks and McGree.
Crooks stung the palms of Thomas Kaminski from a tight angle early on as the keeper acrobatically denied the visitors, and Rovers hit the front when Buckley sprang Boro’s offside trap and set Hedges clear. He steadied himself before confidently slotting into the bottom right corner.
Chuba Akpom sent a free header wide from close range, while Blackburn effectively utilised a long pass again, with Tyler Morton finding Sam Gallagher, who fired well wide.
Hayden Hackney rattled the crossbar just before the break but from the resulting corner, Rovers broke at speed only for Gallagher to pass up a wonderful opportunity when he headed tamely at Zack Steffen.
Boro equalised within 30 seconds of the restart as Crooks’ perfectly weighted ball found the onrushing Forss on the right and even though the angle was tight, the Finnish forward’s shot was ferocious and burst through Kaminski.
Blackburn suffered another major setback in the 50th minute when Buckley saw red for a bizarre incident where he appeared to bounce the ball off the head of McGree.
And the hosts’ misery was compounded when a super move from Boro saw Hackney’s cross-field ball headed across the box by Forss into the path of McGree who found the top corner with a sumptuous volley from 15 yards.
Ben Brereton Diaz saw a controlled free-kick well saved as Rovers rallied, but Kaminski had to save brilliantly to prevent Crooks adding an injury-time third.