Blackburn Rovers rallied from a goal down to earn a replay with Manchester City in the third round of the FA Cup.
City looked on course for victory on their travels when Alvaro Negredo fired them ahead on the stroke of half time, but Rovers rallied and a goal from Scott Dann forced a replay.
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Blackburn forced a couple of saves out of Costel Pantilimon in the opening 20 minutes, one from Dann and the other from Ben Marshall.
Pantilimon’s opposite number, Paul Robinson, had little to do in the opening 25 minutes but had to be alert to deny Negredo and Fernandinho as City flexed their muscles towards the half-hour mark.
City had penalty appeals waved away on 38 minutes—there was contact between Tommy Spurr and Negredo, but referee Michael Oliver was not interested.
The visitors continued to probe and, on the stroke of half-time, they edged ahead. Edin Dzeko showed his aerial prowess to beat his marker to a corner, he nodded the ball down and Negredo was rewarded for an excellent first-half display with a simple finish.
There was an on-field post-mortem among the Blackburn camp, with Grant Hanley and Chris Taylor having to be pulled apart as the players made their way towards the dressing rooms at the interval.
Pantilimon has been mixing first-team duties with Joe Hart this term. On 55 minutes, City boss Manuel Pellegrini may have been regretting his selection as the 'keeper allowed a header from Dann to slip through his grasp to bring Rovers back on level terms.
City had a big change to regain the lead shortly after the hour, but Robinson was the equal of Dzeko’s drive and Negredo could only nod the rebound wide.
Negredo carried a threat throughout and found space at a corner, but he could not direct his header on target.
Scott Dann: Until his goal against Manchester City, Dann had gone 42 hours and 9 mins in the Championship and FA Cup without a goal #BRFC— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) January 4, 2014
A little over 15 minutes from time, Pellegrini withdrew Negredo and replaced him with Jesus Navas. It almost paid immediate dividends as Robinson produced a superb diving save to push a shot around the post.
Yaya Toure, also brought on from the bench, and Navas went close as City tried to secure the win.
The visitors' chances were dealt a blow five minutes from time as Dedryck Boyata was dismissed for picking up a second caution and it enabled Rovers to hold on for a replay.
It was not all one-way traffic towards the end of the match as Rovers substitute Jordan Rhodes curled an effort narrowly wide of target.
A replay is not likely to have been on Pellegrini’s wish list, but he was happy to still be in the hat for the fourth round.
Speaking to City’s official website after the game, Pellegrini said:
I think it’s very important to still be in the cup—we played against a strong home team.
There is a lot of motivation for a Championship team playing against a Premier League team.
I’m not disappointed, it was a very close game—we had more clear chances but not enough to decide the game.
City's next outing is also in knockout competition, as they face West Ham in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup on Wednesday—followed by a trip to Newcastle in the Premier League on Sunday.
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