Joao’s that? Owls swoop late
PAUL Lambert questioned a ‘grey area’ in the laws of the game after his side conceded a controversial late equaliser from Sheffield Wednesday supersub Lucas Joao while captain Grant Hanley was injured.
Rovers went into the break 2-1 up courtesy of goals from Hope Akpan and Corry Evans either side of Modou Sougou’s goal for the Owls.
The half-time introduction of Joao and Gary Hooper changed the game for the visitors and the breakthrough came in the 84th minute when Hanley went down and Wednesday attacked rather than putting the ball out.
New Rovers manager Lambert said the draw was still a good result on his home debut, despite the nature of the visitors’ second goal.
He said: “I think it’s a grey area, it’s down to the referee’s discretion, he doesn’t have to blow. I can understand why they have done it, and fair play.
“The referee has the right to do what he wants, but in that situation Sheffield Wednesday kick the ball out and we give them it back. They chose to play on, and I’m not going to criticise doing that as it would be scraping the barrel.
“It didn’t help as Grant Hanley had been immense, and they get a bit fortuitous as it comes off their guy’s shin and they score.
“They’re a good side, they just beat Arsenal not long ago. If you can’t win a game, at least don’t lose it.”
Rovers got off to the perfect start scoring in the first five minutes as Akpan rose to meet Craig Conway’s whipped corner to head home his first goal for the club.
Wednesday pegged the home side back after Kieran Lee showed great footwork to round the keeper and hit the post, the ball bounced out to Sougou who couldn’t miss from that range.
The hosts were back in the lead almost immediately when another Conway corner bounced out to Evans who shot through a crowd of players and the deflection left keeper Keiren Westwood helpless.
The Yorkshire side had only lost once in the previous 11 games and they showed their quality in the second half.
Blackburn eventually succumbed to the pressure when Tom Lees’ sliced volley dropped to Joao to score – the Portuguese now has a Championship-high of four goals from the bench this season.
Lambert’s men went close at the death through Jordan Rhodes’ header, but ultimately the Rovers boss was pleased with the performance.
“On another day we could’ve won it but it’s four points out of six since we’ve arrived and that’s a good result,” Lambert added.
Meanwhile, Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal believed his side deserved the three points, on the strength of their second-half performance and the impact of Joao.
“In the second half we were the best team on the pitch so in my opinion we deserved to win,” he said.“They came with a new coach in his first home game. They won last time and had a new energy. They were very strong in the free kick and corners.
“We lost concentration for the first goal. And Tom Lees was fouled before the second goal, and the referee didn’t see it.
“The people are very excited about Joao. But he is playing in the environment that suits him at the moment.
“If he plays many games it might be more difficult for him. Now we create the environment where he makes a difference coming into the team with his energy.”
HOPE & GLORY: Blackburn Rovers’ Hope Akpan scores their first goal but Wednesday came fron behind twice for a draw