Blackburn Rovers brushed aside Premier League opposition in The FA Cup for a second time this season, sending Stoke City out with a 4-1 hiding.
After seeing off Swansea City at Ewood Park in the Fourth Round, they were even more convincing here as strike partners Josh King and Rudy Gestede ran the Potters ragged.
Blackburn 4-1 Stoke
FA Cup Fifth Round
Saturday 14 February 2015
Winners receive £180,000
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Former Manchester United starlet King had only scored once this season, but certainly found his eye for goal here with a finely taken hat-trick to put Gary Bowyer’s side into the last eight.
The Norwegian had too much pace and nous for Stoke throughout the game and showed his finishing ability too as Rovers reached the Sixth Round for the second time in three seasons.
And with Gestede proving a physical menace to complement King’s movement, it was an unhappy return to Ewood Park for former Rovers boss and Potters chief Mark Hughes.
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It had started so well for the Welshman’s side too, as Peter Crouch poked them ahead in the 10th minute after Rovers failed to clear a Victor Moses corner from the right.
Rovers did not allow that setback to dampen their bright opening though and when Craig Conway, on for the injured Ben Marshall, crossed from the left, a flick from Gestede picked out King in space.
He elected to control first, before seeing his shot clip the bar on its way over but it was a warning to Stoke of the danger posed.
The visitors should have had a second goal when Moses bundled his way past two defenders before thumping a shot away.
Simon Eastwood saved well, before Crouch mis-kicked the rebound and left Mame Biram Diouf to shoot well over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
That would have been hard on Rovers, who got their deserved equaliser just after the half-hour mark.
The goal was set up by some great defending at the other end, as Steven Nzonzi’s low shot was blocked in the area before Rovers quickly broke to win a corner.
Conway swung the ball into the box and when Shane Duffy nodded goalwards, King was on hand to flick a header past the exposed Jack Butland from four yards.
Rovers took the initiative from there and after seeing an earlier header drift just wide, King raced past Philipp Wollscheid to cross for Gestede, only for the Frenchman to miss his kick.
And Gestede then nodded another ball into the area which the Stoke defence allowed to bounce, before Conway looped a header onto the roof of the net.
Wollscheid then cleared off the line when Chris Taylor nudged the ball goalwards after Butland had dropped Adam Henley’s high ball into the area.
But Rovers deservedly took the lead in added time, when last-man Geoff Cameron dragged down King in the box to both concede a penalty and get himself sent off.
Gestede kept his nerve to send Butland the wrong way and roll the ball home from the spot to put his side in front at the break.
Blackburn did not take their foot off the gas after the restart either and extended their lead in the 50th minute, when King snuck in behind the injured Marc Muniesa to break clear on goal after Gestede had lifted the ball forward.
He had all the time he needed in the box, before calmly sliding a low shot past Butland for his second of the afternoon.
And less than five minutes later, King completed his treble with an almost identical finish from inside the box by picking out the bottom corner with that favoured slide-rule shot after another assist from Gestede.
With Rovers now in control and looking for more, Butland prevented a fifth with a stunning close-range save to block Gestede’s header after a pin-point cross from the over-lapping Olsson.
Conway then dragged a shot wide of the post after darting past three defenders and into the area as Rovers looked to add more gloss to the scoreline.
They had to settle for just the four though, to leave those supporters who had made the effort well rewarded and undoubtedly eagerly awaiting Monday’s Sixth Round draw.
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): 13 Simon Eastwood; 2 Adam Henley, 4 Matt Kilgallon (c), 22 Shane Duffy, 14 Markus Olsson; 19 Chris Taylor, 10 Tom Cairney, 17 Lee Williamson, 12 Ben Marshall, 7 Josh King; 39 Rudy Gestede
Substitutes: 32 Craig Conway for Marshall 11, 29 Corry Evans for Williamson 46, 16 Luke Varney for King 78
Substitutes not used: 30 Jason Steele, 3 Tommy Spurr, 5 Grant Hanley, 11 Jordan Rhodes
Goals: King 35, 51, 55, Gestede 45
Cautions: Lee Williamson 18, Corry Evans 60, Tom Cairney 81
Manager: Gary Bowyer
Stoke City (4-4-2): 22 Jack Butland; 20 Geoff Cameron, 5 Marc Muniesa, 26 Philipp Wollscheid, 2 Phil Bardsley; 10 Marko Arnautovic, 15 Steven Nzonzi, Glenn Whelan (c), 13 Victor Moses; 25 Peter Crouch, 18 Mame Biram Diouf
Substitutes: 28 Andy Wilkinson for Arnautovic 46, 21 Steve Sidwell for Muniesa 52, 16 Charlie Adam for Moses 67
Substitutes not used: 29 Thomas Sorensen, 8 Wilson Palacios, 23 Dionatan Teixeira, 34 Oliver Shenton
Goals: Peter Crouch 10
Cautions: Victor Moses 22, Philip Wollscheid 41, Phil Bardsley 84, Glenn Whelan 86
Red card: Geoff Cameron 45
Manager: Mark Hughes