London: Brad Friedel saved an Alan Smith penalty and Leeds United squandered a chance of going second in the Premier League when they tumbled 0-1 at Blackburn on Sunday.
Gary Flitcroft scored the only goal after 24 minutes for his first goal in 11 months and the result was that Terry Venables’ title-chasing team slipped to fifth below Chelsea on goal difference.
In Sunday’s other game, substitute Dion Dublin scored the winner five minutes from the end as Aston Villa edged past Everton 3-2. Villa went two goals up through Lee Hendrie before Canadian striker Tomasz Radzinski and Kevin Campbell replied for the Blues.
Blackburn’s matchwinner at Ewood Park had plenty of fortune. The ball appeared to go out before Keith Gillespie crossed to Flitcroft and the midfielder’s shot spun off the leg of Leeds defender Jonathan Woodgate before going in.
The Leeds penalty was awarded for handball by Henning Berg and, with regular spot kick takers Ian Harte and Mark Viduka having been taken off just two minutes earlier.
Smith had the task of equalising but his shot was easily saved by the American World Cup ’keeper diving to his left.
“It’s the most disappointing result of the season so far, particularly our first half display,” Venables said.
“In the last half an hour they were hanging on and we should have got something from this match. If we continue to play as we did in the last 30 minutes then I won’t be complaining too much.”
Both Blackburn and Villa climbed seven places into the top half of the standings and that was of particular satisfaction to the Villa fans whose team is now above promoted neighbours West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City. (AP)