It just seems that former Rovers players are coming back to haunt Blackburn and Graeme Souness. Recently, Chris Sutton was on hand to oust Rovers in the UEFA Cup. Now former Blackburn midfielder Carsley joins that troublesome list for Souness as ex-Rovers go on the prowl when they return.
A smart Carsley header sent Kevin Campbell free down the right side. None other than Wayne Rooney, who struck first time from 15 yards, met Campbell’s low cross. Only woodwork denied Rooney’s effort, but Carsley had followed up his initial header and there he was in the right place at the right time to tap in from two yards. Hitting the base of the post, the ball rebounded behind Rovers and U.S. international goalkeeper Brad Friedel, presenting a little luck for the oncoming Irish midfielder. Carsley, the bald eagle, had landed in Blackburn’s box and his hard work paid off with a little luck of the post.
The game got off to a flyer and in the sixth minute Andy Cole headed Rovers into a 1-nil lead with his 150th premiership goal. Rovers were unfortunate not to go two goals up when Dwight Yorke shot just wide. Yorke’s near miss was a wakeup call for the Everton players and in the 12th minute the bald one responded to level matters at Goodison Park. The crowd went wild and continued to do so as entertainment was non-stop from both sides. Then, in the 25th minute, young Rooney scored his third league goal and, yes, another cracker it it was.
Yorke came close again, sending the ball over the bar. Richard Wright then belted the kick-out and Rovers allowed it to bounce deep in their own half. That bouncing ball indicates a lapse of concentration by the Rovers defense and Rooney was only too eager to capitalize. Flicking the ball on and leaving defenders in his wake, the 17-year-old struck an audacious effort past a helpless Friedel. A few minutes later, Rooney mania was frantic all around Goodison Park when he controlled a high ball, nutmegged his marker, and off he sped on goal only to shoot wide. However, the game was by no means over when Blackburn’s Cole hit the post with less than 10 minutes to halftime.
While the strikers were mesmerizing the Goodison crowds, Carsley was grinding away in midfield with his relentless work ethic. Then up he popped again to strike an 18-yard drive just over the crossbar. The going got tougher with 15 minutes remaining when Blackburn’s Lucas Neill was sent off. Blood began to boil. Souness was livid on the sideline and his team responded as they loaded everything they had into Everton’s half. The Toffees survived the late onslaught as Rooney was subbed, but remaining right in the thick of it all was the reliable and gutsy Carsley. Everton boss David Moyes reminded fans that, “It’s not the Wayne Rooney show.” But everyone knows Rooney is becoming a superstar and that stardom is built on grafters like Lee Carsley.
Born in Birmingham, the 28-year-old Carsley plays with as much pride as anybody for the Republic of Ireland. He tackles tenaciously in the green shirt, just like he has done at club level for Coventry City, Blackburn Rovers, Derby County, and now Everton. Carsley has played 16 times for Ireland (7-5-4). The midfielder has played in seven European Championship games, has made three appearances in World Cup qualifiers, and has six friendlies under his belt. He made his debut in the 1997 World Cup qualifier against Romania in a 1-all draw. After Blackburn signed him from Derby for