Swine-flu victim Jason Roberts came off the bench to lift Blackburn out of the relegation zone with a second-half double in a 3-1 win over bottom side Portsmouth.
Rovers trailed at the break to Jamie O’Hara’s 30-yard strike for the visitors. But Roberts’ entry transformed the match with the powerful Grenada striker claiming a 52nd-minute equaliser and Rovers’ third after a rare strike from their captain, the New Zealand defender Ryan Nelsen.
Pompey, who kicked off knowing a win could lift them out of the bottom three, took the lead against the run of play. Aruna Dindane fed O’Hara in the middle of the pitch and the on-loan Tottenham midfielder was able to make progress before beating Paul Robinson with a low, left-foot drive.
Marc Wilson came close to doubling the lead when he outjumped the home defenders to meet an O’Hara free-kick, prompting some angry jeers from the home supporters.
Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce had little option but to make changes and Roberts and Benni McCarthy joined the fray at the start of the second half, with El-Hadji Diouf and Morten Gamst Pedersen making way.
David Dunn soon mustered the hosts’ first shot on target although the midfielder’s effort was easily held by David James.
Younes Kaboul then headed narrowly wide after another fine delivery from O’Hara before Blackburn equalised.
Nelsen headed down Dunn’s corner and Roberts reacted quickest to steer the equaliser past James.
Another Dunn corner led to Blackburn’s second, Nelsen meeting it with a superb header for what was only his second goal for the club.
Portsmouth did not look like they had any fight left in them and Roberts made sure of the points five minutes from the end when he latched on to McCarthy’s cross from the left to beat James for a second time.
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