Relief for Kean as Blackburn beat Pune FC

Updated: 07 October 2011 22:01 IST

Barely 6,000 fans saw struggling Blackburn Rovers carve out an easy win over a local side in an exhibition match Friday that marked the first appearance by an English Premier League side in India.

Relief for Kean as Blackburn beat Pune FC

Pune:

Barely 6,000 fans saw struggling Blackburn Rovers carve out an easy win over a local side in an exhibition match Friday that marked the first appearance by an English Premier League side in India.


But a growing fans' campaign to get Steve Kean fired followed the beleaguered manager to India as a poster saying "Kean Out" sprang up in the stands in the first-half, but was hurriedly removed by the organisers.

Indian-owned Rovers, who are languishing second-last in the Premier League after losing five of their opening seven matches, beat 10-man Pune FC 3-0 to avoid any more unwanted attention for the under-pressure Kean.

Jason Roberts scored once in each half and Spaniard Ruben Rochina netted the other, in a match played in persistent rain at the 14,000-capacity Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune.

Rovers, who are owned by Pune-based poultry firm Venky's, were without nine regulars including Martin Olsson and Radosav Petrovic, who are on international duties this week.

Pune FC, a five-year-old club which finished third on its debut in India's I-League in 2009, defended gallantly to deny the technically superior Rovers a bigger victory.

The match began on an embarrassing note for the organisers when the ball had to be changed after just two minutes because it had not been fully pumped up.

The hosts were reduced to 10 men by the 15th minute as Anas Edathodika was sent off after two yellow cards for tackles on Junior Hoilett and Rochina.

Rovers went into the lead in the 35th minute when Roberts beat goalkeeper Shahinlal Meloly from a narrow angle.

Rochina made it 2-0 soon after with a powerful left-footer, before Roberts tapped in a loose ball in the 76th minute.

The win would have come as some relief for Kean, whose dismissal had been demanded by angry Rovers fans even before last week's 4-0 loss at home to Manchester City.

European football, especially the English Premier League, enjoys a growing following in India, which is regarded as a massive potential market for the sport.

The eastern city of Kolkata recently hosted a FIFA-sanctioned friendly between Lionel Messi-led Argentina and Venezuela, while Liverpool and Rovers are setting up youth academies in India.



Topics : Football Blackburn Rovers
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