Blackburn close in on automatic promotion places with Norwich win
Blackburn recorded a hard-fought 2-0 victory at fellow high-fliers Norwich to move to within two points of the automatic promotion places in the Sky Bet Championship.
Ben Gibson’s own goal and a deflected effort from Tyrhys Dolan settled a tight game of few clear-cut chances, enabling the visitors to close the gap on second-placed Sheffield United, who are not in action until Monday.
The game was played out in a tense atmosphere, with the home fans unhappy with the quality of football being produced under head coach Dean Smith, and there were loud calls for his dismissal at the final whistle.
Rovers got off to a flying start, taking the lead after just three minutes with a goal that had a huge slice of good fortune about it.
A chipped free-kick from Tyler Morton was aimed towards Sam Gallagher, who missed the ball completely and it went in off Canaries defender Gibson, who totally wrong-footed Angus Gunn at his near post.
The visitors never really threatened again in a poor first half, although they kept a misfiring Norwich side largely at arm’s length on a freezing evening at Carrow Road.
Their first moment of genuine alarm came in the 27th minute when possession was lost in midfield to gift Teemu Pukki a run on goal.
Norwich’s top scorer was crudely brought down by Daniel Ayala as he raced towards the area but fortunately for the Spaniard there was a covering defender and it was only a yellow card.
The home side finally had an effort on target 10 minutes later but Isaac Hayden’s header from Gabriel Sara’s corner was comfortably gathered by goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski.
When Norwich started the second half slowly there were calls for the sacking of Smith in some quarters, with further disparaging chants about the quality of football under his tenure.
But the Canaries stuck to their task and as the game passed the hour mark, Josh Sargent was only narrowly off target when Pukki sent in a dangerous low cross.
Gunn was finally forced into a save from a speculative effort from substitute Sammie Szmodics.
Norwich were posing the greater threat but it was Blackburn who scored the decisive second goal via another deflection with five minutes of normal time remaining.
This time Dolan was the fortunate player, with his low shot from a tight angle coming off Sam McCallum to leave Gunn helpless.
Kaminski produced a brilliant reaction save to deny substitute Adam Idah as the game threatened to boil over at the end, with the visitors then safely seeing out the game.