Blackburn Rovers 2-0 Bristol City: Jordan Rhodes shoots down City at Ewood Park
Jordan Rhodes shot down Championship strugglers Bristol City to give Blackburn Rovers a comfortable 2-0 victory at Ewood Park.
The Scotland international proved the difference between two evenly-matched teams, scoring a goal in each half to take his tally for the season to 19.
Rhodes demonstrated predatory instincts to fire Rovers in front on 28 minutes and he put the outcome beyond doubt when bursting through to net a second 209 minutes into the second half.
Still to register an away point under new head coach Sean O'Driscoll, City gave as good as they got, but failed to take their chances, notably when Paul Anderson and Steven Davies shot narrowly off target late in the first half.
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Still deep in relegation trouble, the Robins suffered a further setback when experienced defender Louis Carey limped off with a knee injury shortly before the interval.
City arrived at Ewood Park on the back of revitalising home wins over Ipswich and Watford seeking to put together a three-match unbeaten run for the first time this season.
O'Driscoll made one change from the side that beat Watford in midweek, promoting Marvin Elliott to the starting line-up to replace the injured Cole Skuse in the centre of midfield.
Their confidence restored, City certainly made a better start than when losing to Blackburn in the FA Cup last month, pressing the home side back during the opening exchanges. That pressure nearly resulted in a goal after eight minutes, Steven Davies sending a powerfully-struck free kick inches over Jake Kean's cross bar after Liam Kelly had been fouled by Colin Kazim-Richards.
Blackburn responded with a dangerous free kick of their own, Morten Gamst Pedersen grazing the bar with a curling left-footed effort from 25 yards out that had Robins keeper Tom Heaton clawing at thin air.
City produced the most fluent attacking move of the game in the 24th minute, Anderson driving at the heart of the Rovers defence, exchanging passes with Stephen Pearson and lifting his shot high with only Kean to beat.
He no doubt regretted that missed opportunity when Blackburn went ahead four minutes later. A corner was only half cleared by the visiting defence, Pedersen swung the ball back into the mix and Rhodes demonstrated lightning-quick reactions to turn and shoot in one fluid movement, his shot flying beyond Heaton's despairing dive and finding the corner of the net.
There were more problems for City when skipper Carey, who had been a rock at the heart of the defence, went down under pressure from Markus Olsson and required lengthy treatment from the physio. He got to his feet eventually, but was clearly unable to continue and was replaced by James Wilson two minutes before half time.
City came out with renewed purpose and threatened an equaliser when Anderson crossed from the left and Elliott rose above Scott Dann, only to direct his header straight at Kean from six yards out.
Blackburn needed the cushion of a second goal and Rhodes came close to providing it when meeting Bradley Orr's centre with a back header that crept just wide.
He made no mistake when next time opportunity came knocking, racing onto a long pass from Danny Murphy, shrugging off Wilson and burying his shot low to Heaton's right to give the home side breathing space.
It was the striker's 100th league goal and it effectively ended any chance of a City fight-back.
The Robins seldom threatened to pull a goal back, despite the introduction of Jon Stead and Wes Burns and it was Blackburn who came closest to adding to their tally, Markus Olsson firing just over the bar from the edge of the penalty area.
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Kean; Orr, Dann, Hanley, Martin Olsson; Pedersen, Lowe, Murphy, Markus Olsson (Kane 89); Kazim-Richards, Rhodes.
Bristol City (4-4-2): Heaton; Moloney, Carey (Wilson, 43), Fontaine, Cunningham; Anderson (Burns 83), Kelly, Elliott, Pearson; Baldock, Davies (Stead 65).
Referee: Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire).