Blackburn thrash Lincoln to book place in third round of Carabao Cup
A dominant second-half performance helped Blackburn overcome League Two leaders Lincoln 4-1 in the Carabao Cup second round.
The 2002 winners took an early lead through Joe Nuttall’s close range finish but Joan Luque hit back in the first half on his full debut.
Any hopes Lincoln had of reaching the third round for the first time since 1997 were extinguished by two goals in 12 second-half minutes – a composed Danny Graham finish and a fine 20-yard strike from Paul Downing.
Substitute Kasey Palmer put the seal on the victory with a sumptuous free-kick, handing Lincoln their first defeat of the season.
Rovers have yet to lose this term and are unbeaten in 15 on home soil.
Both sides made sweeping changes from their weekend league fixtures; Rovers gave Academy graduate Joe Grayson his debut – part of six alterations.
Lincoln made seven, handing debuts to Adam Crookes and Sam Slocombe, as well as Luque’s first start.
The Championship side took the lead with the first attack in the fourth minute as Craig Conway’s whipped cross was thrashed goalwards by Nuttall and he reacted quickest to the blocked shot to hammer home his first of the season from close range.
Danny Cowley’s side regained their composure and Luque’s immaculate control from a long ball set up a chance but David Raya saved his low drive; at the other end, Graham swept goalwards, only to see the shot deflected wide.
But the Imps hit back in the 29th minute when Matt Rhead cushioned a header perfectly into the path of Luque on the left who had time to steady himself before lashing a low effort in at the near post.
Matt Green almost benefited from a defensive mix up between Grayson and Amari’i Bell, but slammed into the side netting from an awkward angle.
Nuttall badly miscued a free header at the start of the second half, but Graham saved his blushes in the 49th minute, latching onto Lewis Travis’ inch-perfect pass to confidently tuck his second of the season into the bottom corner.
It was all Blackburn by this point and although Slocombe saved well from Joe Rothwell, he could do nothing in the 61st minute when Paul Caddis’ cutback found Downing on the edge of the area who stroked home a low shot with aplomb.
Conway’s magnificent curling strike from the left drifted wide of the far post soon after, but Palmer put the exclamation mark on the performance in the 77th minute, curling home a free-kick from 25-yards with power and precision – his second goal in as many games – whichensured Rovers moved safely through to round three.