Blackburn Rovers climbed to seventh place in the Premier League today after a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at Ewood Park.
A first-half own goal from West Brom defender Gabriel Tamas and a superb second-half strike from Canadian youngster David Hoilett sealed a deserved win for Rovers, who are six points behind Sunderland in sixth.
The defeat pushed West Brom further towards the relegation quagmire, with Roberto Di Matteo's men now having lost six of their last seven matches. The Baggies remain just three points above the drop zone in 15th place.
After an early scare in the first minute which saw Peter Odemwingie force a diving save from Paul Robinson, Blackburn enjoyed the better of the first half. West Brom had goalkeeper Boaz Myhill to thank for keeping Rovers at bay, saving in quick succession from Martin Olsson and Chris Samba.
With Myhill in commanding form it always seemed likely that Rovers might need a slice of luck to break the deadlock and so it proved on 41 minutes. Rovers midfielder David Dunn went on a surging run from midfield before floating in a cross from the right-hand flank.
Romanian defender Tamas appeared to have the danger covered as he jumped to head clear, but somehow misdirected his header into his own goal past a helpless Myhill. Rovers took a stranglehold on the game early in the second half, when 20-year-old Hoilett scored a fine individual effort, ghosting past a static Tamas before rifling a shot past Myhill.
West Brom battled vainly to gain a foothold in the match, but found Robinson in superb form between the sticks, the former England international thwarting Jerome Thomas with a fine save.
The Baggies were also desperately unlucky not to be awarded a penalty with 20 minutes left when Jermaine Jones clattered into Odemwingie near the edge of the area. Referee Mark Clattenburg blew for a free-kick but replays clearly showed Odemwingie was inside the box when fouled.
Rovers manager Steve Kean was delighted after a win that has given Blackburn their highest league position for two-and-a-half years. "I'm very happy," Kean told Sky Sports. "It was a tough game but we really stuck at it today and I thought we were excellent. The togetherness of the team, the spirit. The dressing room is jumping."
Di Matteo bemoaned his side's concession of a goal early in the second half as the turning point. "Before we conceded the first goal I thought we defended quite well. At 1-0 you're still in the game but the way we came out in the second half was very disappointing. You leave yourself a big mountain to climb."