Blackburn advance in FA Cup

Carlos Villanueva’s stunning free kick gave Blackburn a 1-0 victory at non-league Blyth Spartans in the third round of the FA Cup on Monday, setting up a meeting with Sunderland for a place in the last 16.

The Chile international scored the only goal in the 58th minute from 25m with a shot that curled and flew into the top corner, saving the Premier League club from an embarrassing setback.

”It would have been disappointing had we not won this game,” Rovers manager Sam Allardyce said. ”It was a wonderful goal from Carlos. We should have been a bit more clinical.”

Allardyce, whose team is next to last in the Premier League, changed his entire line-up and filled his side with mainly back-up players at Croft Park. Blyth play in the sixth tier of English football and had taken only one point from their last 11 league games, but managed to give Rovers a first-half scare.

Blyth striker Ged Dalton squandered a great chance to take a 26th-minute lead when he collected a weak clearance by Rovers’ Aaron Mokoena, but shot wide with goalkeeper Mark Bunn off his line.

Blackburn then began to dominate and Spartans keeper Mark Bell saved from Keith Treacy, and Richard Pell blocked a volley from Vince Grella on the line.

After Villanueva had given Rovers the lead, Blyth missed a late chance to force a replay when Spartans opened up the Blackburn defence only for Andy Wright to fire a right-footer a metre wide.

”I’m extremely disappointed. I felt at the end of the game we might have pinched it,” Blyth manager Harry Dunn said. ”But it says something that a Premier League side were taking the ball into the corner at the end to waste a few seconds. It took a great goal to beat us. It’s been a fantastic experience, a great night for us.” — Sapa-AP

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