Bolton Wanderers secured all three points in what was an emotional day at the Reebok Stadium.
David Wheater scored two first half headers as the Trotters played their first game since Fabrice Muamba collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest at White Hart Lane last weekend.
Steven Nzonzi pulled a goal back for the away side, but Bolton held on to claim a vital three points, boosting their survival chances.
Both sets of players and fans joined together as the stadium erupted in to applause prior to kick off. A montage was played on the big screen issuing messages from across the world of football, wishing Muamba a speedy recovery. As the players entered the field a mosaic appeared as thousands of fans held up pieces of card revealing the phrase “MUAMBA 6”.
The game started with both teams taking it in turns to squander possession and in truth it was a tedious opening to the game. But with 20 minutes on the clock, Junior Hoilett jinked his way in to the Bolton penalty box and seemed to be fouled by Gretar Steinsson as the defenders outstretched leg floored the Canadian. But Andre Marriner waved away the protests much to the disgust of the Blackburn fans who had sold out their allocation of tickets in the away end.
Just minutes later Bolton opened the scoring. Petrov’s cross from the left was headed towards the goal by a Blackburn defender and David Wheater found himself unmarked at the back post to head past Paul Robinson. The home fans celebrated by chanting Fabrice Muamba’s name.
The away side responded and should have equalised. Marcus Olsson crossed from the left and Yakubu rose highest but his header flew wide of the mark, the Nigerian should have done better.
Bolton doubled their lead moments later as Ryo Miyaichi’s corner found David Wheater, again unmarked, to head home his second. Steve Kean will be fuming at his teams marking as both goals could and should have been prevented.
After the interval Bolton had a glorious chance to put the game beyond doubt, but David Ngog’s header flew over the bar.
Rovers undeservedly got themselves back in the game. Pedersen’s long throw in to the box was expertly headed past the stranded Bogdan and in to the top corner by Steven Nzonzi, game on or so I thought.
Instead of piling on the pressure Blackburn continued giving away the ball and were half hearted in every challenge. And to Bolton should have added a third as Mark Davies headed wide.
The final five minutes was a backs against the wall job for Bolton as Hoilett provided a cross from the right and Yakubu attempted a crafty flick but the ball went wide of the mark.
In the dyeing minutes Rovers resorted to route one football as they went in search of an unlikely equaliser. Desperate times called for desperate measures, and goalkeeper Paul Robinson joined the attack as Blackburn were award a free-kick in the last minute of the game. But Pedersen’s ball was poor, and Bolton held on for a deserved three points.
Blackburn simply were not good enough and the defeat means they are back in the dog fight at the foot of the table. They lacked any desire or fight as Bolton completely outplayed Steve Kean’s men. Owen Coyle can be very proud of his side as they have shown fantastic resilience in terrible circumstances.