Blackburn Rovers 0 Liverpool 0

Sam Allardyce enjoyed a happy return to action, as Blackburn Rovers held Liverpool to a goalless draw at Ewood Park.

The Blackburn boss had missed Rovers' previous four fixtures after undergoing a minor heart procedure, but he would have been delighted to see his side pick up their first point against one of the 'big four' since April 2008.

Liverpool's season continues to stutter, with just two league wins now in their last eight games and an embarrassing Champions League exit to boot.

In a game of few chances, two substitutes came closest, with David N'Gog rattling the bar and Nikola Kalinic wasting a glorious opportunity for the home side.

After a thrilling but gruelling Carling Cup quarter-final victory over Chelsea in midweek, Rovers rang the changes, with Gael Givet, Vince Grella, El Hadji Diouf and Franco di Santo all restored to the starting line-up.

Liverpool made two changes to the side that defeated local rivals Everton last weekend, with wingers Yossi Benayoun and Albert Riera preferred to Fabio Aurelio and N'Gog.

The game took an eternity to get going, with neither keeper called into action inside the opening half-an-hour.

On 36 minutes, Chris Samba glanced Paul Robinson's long free-kick straight into the arms of Pepe Reina while at the other end, Steven Gerrard's attempted curler was deflected wide of the far post.

Thankfully for the fans, the second half started off at a canter. Just 70 seconds had elapsed when Steven N'Zonzi played di Santo clean through, but the young Argentine spent too long looking across at the linesman and, before he had time to pull the trigger, the chance had gone.

Liverpool responded, with Riera replaced by N'Gog, and Gerrard - making his 500th appearance for the club - twice trying his luck from the edge of the box.

Just past the hour mark, a slip by Lucas Leiva allowed di Santo to break down the left, but his shot across goal was comfortably saved by Reina.

Liverpool came within a whisker of breaking the deadlock on 71 minutes. After a storming run by Glen Johnson down the right, his centre was smashed against the bar by N'Gog and Robinson pulled off a superb diving save to deny Dirk Kuyt on the rebound.

The visitors started to pile on the pressure, but Rovers' defence stood strong. The home side almost capitalised on the counter-attack, when substitute David Hoilett found Benni McCarthy after a break down the left, but the South African striker fired inches wide.

Kalinic almost won it for Rovers late on. The Croatian fired high and wide towards the end of 90 minutes and then failed to hit the target with just Reina to beat in stoppage time, after being played through by Hoilett.

But that's three clean sheets in Rovers' last four league games and just two defeats in 23 home matches since Big Sam took charge almost 12 months ago.