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Rovers 2 Larissa 1 (2-3 Aggregate)


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Rovers: Friedel, Emerton, Samba, Ooijer, Warnock, Mokoena (Pedersen 63), Tugay, Derbyshire (McCarthy 69), Bentley, Dunn (Savage 78), Santa Cruz.

Subs Not Used: Brown, Khizanishvili, Rigters, Kane.

Booked: Tugay, Samba, Warnock.

Goals: Derbyshire 45 pen, Warnock 51.

Larissa: Kotsolis, Galitsios, Dabizas, Foerster, Katsiaros, Kiriakidis, Alexandrou (Kotsios 56), Fotakis, Sarmiento, Bakayoko (Gikas 90), Cleyton (Kalantzis 78).

Subs Not Used: Kipouros, Parra, Venetis, Bahramis.

Booked: Sarmiento, Kotsolis, Cleyton, Fotakis.

Goals: Cleyton 17

Att: 20,741

Ref: Claudio Circhetta (Switzerland).


Over 20,000 turned out to spur on the team, however, despite their 2-1 win, Rovers paid the penalty for conceding two goals away in Greece, when they were knocked out of the UEFA Cup 3-2 on aggregate by Larissa.

Already with an uphill task, Rovers conceded the sucker punch of an away goal in the first half when Larissa’s Cleyton created enough space for himself to score from 12 yards.

Rovers however managed to equalised just before half time, with a twice taken Matt Derbyshire penalty after Lariss’a keeper Elias Kotsolis had down David Dunn.

Rovers took an early second half lead after Stephen Warnock volleyed home Bentley’s right wing cross, however, this was not to be Rovers night and once again Rovers made an early exit from Europe.

To be honest the writing was on the wall, in the team selection. With the knowledge that there was a need to score at least 3 goals, the team kicked off with only Santa Cruz up front and Derbyshire out on the wing, in order to accommodate a defensive five man midfield. This could have been acceptable if Cruz had been given some service and that the midfield had played with some passion and commitment. As far as the first half went, it never looked as if Rovers would score in a month of Sundays and the goal only came courtesy of a penalty.

Some people may argue that Rovers had won their last two games with that formation, but it was a negative gamble, in the knowledge that a minimum of three goals were needed.

Rovers did show some commitment for the first 15 minutes of the second half, with Bentley making some useful runs down the right, which resulted in Warnock’s goal, however as soon as Larissa put two men on Bentley the threat disappear, along with Rovers passion and chances of overcoming a self inflicted hurdle, having conceded an early goal on the night, despite their five man midfield.

Over the two legs, Hughes was tactically beaten by Donis’s team of Greeks that played as a unit under one banner, cheered on by a strong vocal band of travelling supporters at Ewood.

Mark Hughes post match comment:

"If we are honest over the two legs we left ourselves with too much to do.

"Fair play to the lads, we kept going and won the game and that is a positive but we are disappointed as we have enjoyed our games in Europe.

"Good luck to Larissa, they played well over the two legs."

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