Blackburn Rovers FC seized first place in UEFA Cup Group E in dramatic circumstances as a 93rd-minute goal from defender Lucas Neill earned them a 1-0 victory over AS Nancy-Lorraine.
Nancy finish second
Nancy should have won a match they dominated for long stretches but instead they were left ruing earlier missed opportunities when Australian international Neill turned on a loose ball in the penalty box and drove a low shot under Johan Lapeyre. Blackburn's success lifted them on to ten points, three clear of tournament newcomers Nancy who also advance to the last 32 as the section's second-best team.
The visitors made the early running at Ewood Park and Friedel had to be alert after ten minutes to turn behind Frédéric Biancalani's low strike. Although Blackburn's young forward Matthew Derbyshire spurned a good chance when shooting straight at the inexperienced Lapeyre, Nancy's third-choice goalkeeper, the French side carried the greater threat. Kim's pace was a constant menace and the Brazilian created real danger with one surge down the right, only to fail to pick out the unmarked Issiar Dia.
Blackburn breathed another sigh of relief in the 32nd minute when Dia went down under a challenge from Neill but referee Gerald Lehner ignored the Frenchman's claims for a penalty and instead booked him for diving. Nancy kept coming, though, with Kim striking the inside of the far post after leaving Neill for dead with another jet-heeled run and James McEveley blocking Michaël Chrétien's follow-up effort. With half-time approaching, there was another scare for Mark Hughes's men as Kim sent a low cross to the far post only for Pascal Berenguer to fire over.
The second half began in identical fashion, Kim and Dia combining to set up the unmarked Berenguer but he scuffed his shot. David Bentley's spectacular half-volley forced Lapeyre to tip over at the other end, while Friedel was called into similar action to stop Benjamin Gavanon's ambitious effort from close to the halfway line shortly after the hour. That was as close as either team got in the second period until Neill stole an unlikely victory for the English hosts.