Blackburn stay up after Sammie Szmodics’ brace downs Leicester



Posted Saturday, May 04, 2024 by PA

Blackburn stay up after Sammie Szmodics’ brace downs Leicester

Sammie Szmodics’ second-half double ensured Blackburn’s Championship survival following a 2-0 win at newly-crowned champions Leicester.

The division’s top scorer Szmodics found the net just when Rovers’ survival hopes were in the balance as relegation rivals, and Blackburn manager John Eustace’s former club, Birmingham had just taken the lead against Norwich.

That scenario meant if Leicester were to win the game, then Rovers would slide into League One.

But, after 68 minutes, the ball broke kindly on the halfway line for Szmodics who raced clear as Leicester’s defenders were taken by surprise.

Szmodics’ solo run took him into the Leicester 18-yard box and he cooly clipped the ball over goalkeeper Mads Hermansen and into the far corner.

That sparked huge celebrations among the travelling Rovers fans, but Leicester did their best to get back into the game.

But then Szmodics sealed victory in stoppage time when he ran on to a Joe Rankin-Costello pass and beat Hermansen to the ball before running into an empty net for his 27th Championship goal of the season.

Blackburn goalkeeper Aynsley Pears produced a superb save with 10 minutes to go as he tipped a Harry Winks drive on to the crossbar.

Rovers’ performance meant Leicester’s trophy party did not end with a victory.

But it was a chance for supporters to say goodbye to one of the two remaining 2016 Premier League title winners, Marc Albrighton, who came on as a second-half substitute. His contract is up this summer and is unlikely to be renewed.

Jamie Vardy is also out of contract but could yet be offered a new deal at the age of 37.

Leicester fans unveiled a pre-match banner in tribute to Vardy’s contribution since joining the club, and he was given a standing ovation when he was substituted in the second half.

Blackburn had a chance to open the scoring after 14 minutes when Szmodics spun and shot just wide.

Vardy almost broke the deadlock after 26 minutes when he cut in from the left but could only find the side netting.

When Albrighton came on, Vardy gave him the captain’s armband to wear for his final Leicester game.

Leicester sealed promotion last Friday without playing when Leeds lost at QPR, and they sealed the title with a 3-0 victory at Preston on Monday.

The Foxes lacked a cutting edge in their final game of the season, despite a late rally which saw Stephy Mavididi fire a shot over the bar before Winks was denied by Pears.

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