Blackburn and Liverpool fought out a gruelling 0-0 stalemate at Ewood Park with Liverpool substitute coming closest to a goal with a shot that rattled the bar.

The first half was a shocking, grim affair with neither side producing anything worthy of note.

After the break Liverpool were arguably the better side, but even a third successive clean sheet will not mask another display which lacked drive and belief.

Blackburn deserved their point in a good week which also saw them beat Chelsea in the Carling Cup quarter-finals.

They made four changes from Wednesday's victorious side with Michel Salgado, Nikola Kalinic, Morten Gamst Pedersen and Jason Roberts on the bench and the fresh legs of Gael Givet, Vince Grella, El Hadji Diouf and Franco Di Santo all back in the side.

Liverpool had Albert Riera and Yossi Benayoun returning to the starting line-up from the side which won at Everton last time out.

Dirk Kuyt played as the lone central striker with Steven Gerrard, playing his 500th game for the club, delegated to his supporting role.

With Riera and Benayoun out wide and a clear decision to defend in depth, Liverpool were looking to hit Blackburn on the break.

Rovers accepted the initiative handed to them in midfield and came forward with purpose with ex-Liverpool man Diouf prominent as the home side monopolised possession.

Not one serious chance was created in the opening half, Liverpool not having enough up front to make things happen and Blackburn finding it tough to weave their way through Liverpool's massed ranks.

Rovers boss Sam Allardyce, back after his heart surgery but leaving the dug-out to his assistant Neil McDonald, would have been reasonably pleased with what he was watching.

Liverpool chief Rafael Benitez fashioned his side to counter Rovers' aerial threat at set-pieces.

He has always been preoccupied with competing against anything Allardyce comes up with, either at Bolton or now Ewood Park.

The first half saw precious little penalty box activity. Givet's 36th-minute free-kick presented Di Santo with a flick-on chance, but Jose Reina was alive to the danger.

A minute later Gerrard burst into the box from the left, but Chris Samba's lunging tackle deflected the shot wide of the far post.

Di Santo should have scored a minute into the second period when Steven Nzonzi's pass put him clear, but the young striker was painfully slow to get the ball under control and was dispossessed by Daniel Agger.

Then Liverpool again lost Riera to injury as he limped away to be replaced by Ngog, Kuyt moving to the left.

Gerrard soon tested Paul Robinson from 25 yards and then saw another flighted chip clear the bar. Diouf was booked for tripping Javier Mascherano, the tempo of the game finally rising.

Gerrard had another shot blocked and Benayoun's header from his captain's corner flew over the bar.

Rovers hit back when they took advantage of Lucas falling over in possession, surging away for Di Santo to test Reina.

Glen Johnson's exciting run past four men ended with a low cross that Ngog smashed against the bar after 71 minutes, Kuyt's follow up being blocked by Samba.

David Hoilett came on for Diouf and Nabil El Zhar replaced Benayoun, with Benni McCarthy shooting inches wide before being taken off after 76 minutes, Kalinic taking over.

Johnson's cross was then headed back by Gerrard for Ngog, who failed to connect three yards out under pressure.

Rovers sent on Keith Andrews for Di Santo with six minutes left as Liverpool surged forward, but they could not manage the decisive finish.

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Topics:
David Hoilett
Keith Andrews
Nabil El Zhar
Morten Gamst Pedersen
Michel Salgado
Yossi Benayoun
Steven Nzonzi
Football
Blackburn Rovers
Jose Reina
Paul Robinson
Bolton Wanderers
League Cup
Glen Johnson
Lucas
Chelsea
Premier League
Michel
Gael Givet
Daniel Agger
Everton
Dirk Kuyt
Steven Gerrard
Franco Di Santo
Jason Roberts
Liverpool
Paul Robinson