Late show boosts Blackburn
Benni McCarthy made his point to Sam Allardyce as the South African's late goal set Blackburn Rovers on the road to a crucial 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.
McCarthy has been reduced to a bit-part role recently after Allardyce accused the striker of being overweight, but South African star was back in Blackburn's starting line-up at Ewood Park and showed his manager what he can bring to the team.
Rovers were forced to come from behind after falling behind to a Robbie Keane penalty in the first half. However, they finished the match at a numerical advantage when Wilson Palacios picked up two bookings in quick succession with 10 minutes to play.
Tottenham couldn't hold on as McCarthy pounced from close-range two minutes later and then Andre Ooijer punished a mistake from Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to score the winner in the 89th minute. Allardyce's side are now five points clear of the relegation zone ahead of the rest of Saturday's fixtures.
"This was one of our lesser performances, but it doesn't matter how you win as long as you win" Allardyce said. "We showed desire and a bit of determination to overcome a bit of adversity in the penalty decision."
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp added: "We were dominating the game and I couldn't see them scoring if we had played all night. The red card gave them a big lift."
It was Tottenham who had made the more positive start and Aaron Lennon tried to release Keane only for goalkeeper Paul Robinson to make the interception. Blackburn responded with an El-Hadji Diouf header from Morten Gamst Pedersen's cross but the Senegal star failed to hit the target.
Robinson then did well to parry a shot from Darren Bent to safety in the 18th minute after a fine through ball from Palacios. Blackburn were forced to make a change in the 26th minute after Pedersen took a knock and was replaced by Dunn.
Tottenham were steadily pushing Rovers deeper into their own half and took the lead in after half an hour. Lennon's cross from the right struck French defender Gael Givet on the arm and Walton awarded a penalty. Keane calmly slotted past Robinson from the spot.
With Rovers struggling to make any headway, Allardyce made a surprise change at half-time. He took off striker Jason Roberts, pushed central defender Christopher Samba into attack and brought on Ooijer to cover at the back. It was a bold move from Allardyce and Samba quickly made a nuisance of himself, winning a header in the penalty area that fell to Diouf, who sent his effort over the bar.
Lashing the ball long to Samba gave Blackburn an outlet they lacked in the first half but it still took Palacios's dismissal to give then a lifeline. The former Wigan midfielder had already been booked for a foul on Dunn a minute earlier when he challenged the same player.
Blackburn threw players forward in search of an equaliser and got it in the 82nd minute when McCarthy turned in Samba's flick for his 11th goal of the season. That set the stage for a grandstand finish. In the 89th minute, Stephen Warnock sent over a corner and, when Bent missed his header at the near post, Gomes could only help the ball onto Ooijer, who tapped in to complete Blackburn's great escape.