London : Roque Santa Cruz headed a controversial 83rd-minute equaliser for Blackburn Rovers Thursday and enabled his team to draw 2-2 with Manchester City in football’s English Premier League.
Roque, a Paraguayan, headed his second of the game – his seventh in four games – from David Bentley’s cross to make it 2-2 and deny City what would have been a tenth straight league victory at the City of Manchester Stadium.
His celebrations were initially cut short as linesman Darren Cann raised his flag, apparently for offside.
But after a consultation with referee Howard Webb the goal was given, as it emerged that the flag had gone up against David Dunn as he moved towards but did not reach the ball.
Blackburn had bossed possession in the second half without really threatening after a first half in which City, inspired by Martin Petrov, were dominant.
The Bulgarian winger set up both City’s first-half goals, as well as laying on a seemingly unmissable chance for Rolando Bianchi that the Italian striker somehow fluffed.
Zurab Khizanishvili, so effective at centre-back against Chelsea Sunday, was moved to right-back, and had a torrid time as he struggled to match Petrov for pace.
A low cross from Petrov looked to have set up the opener for City, but Bianchi, from no more than two yards out, missed his kick.
City nonetheless took the lead after 27 minutes, Darius Vassell left unmarked at the back post to head in Petrov’s cross.
Roque Santa Cruz levelled things within two minutes, touching in David Bentley’s whipped free-kick, but City rapidly regained their lead.
Petrov again was the supplier, Ryan Nelsen turning the ball over his own line as Bianchi closed in.
At that stage Blackburn were facing their fifth straight league defeat, but they were saved by the intervention of Santa Cruz.