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BRAD JONES...Tribute to his son
SOCCEROO keeper Brad Jones came off the bench to be the penalty save hero for Liverpool this morning - and immediately dedicated it to the memory of his son, Luca.
Jones had to swing into action when Alexander Doni - already standing in for regular glovesman Pepe Reina - was dismissed just 25 minutes into the match against Blackburn Rovers.
But Jones saved the resulting spotkick from Doni's red card tackle in the box - and pointed straight to the heavens as a tribute to Luca, 5, who died last year after a long fight against leukaemia.
After the game, Jones - whose partner just gave birth to Nico Luca last week - admitted: "It's been a difficult 18 months with my son passing away. That was for him."
Reds boss Kenny Dalglish praised Jones: "He had a wee bit of an advantage because the two of them were at Middlesbrough together, The Yak and him.
"Maybe he had a wee bit of a psychological advantage. It was a great save and his first contribution for the club in the Premier League is to save a penalty - I'm sure he'll remember that."
An injury-time header from Andy Carroll went on to secure a 3-2 win for Liverpool in a game which also saw a second penalty against the Reds which Jones was unable to stop.
But with Reina and Doni both now ruled out of action, Jones is in the boxseat to take the number one jersey for Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final clash against Merseyside rivals Everton at Wembley this weekend.
Craig Bellamy orchestrated Liverpool's opening goal on 13 minutes, getting in behind the Blackburn defence and finding Maxi Rodriguez, who tapped in at the back post.
Rodriguez scored his second just three minutes later when the ball fell at his feet after a goalmouth scramble, with the Argentine rifling home for a 2-0 lead.
Doni increased Kenny Dalglish's goalkeeping headache, following the recent suspension of regular custodian Pepe Reina, when he felled Junior Hoilett with a sloppy diving effort after the Canadian had skipped the ball past the shot-stopper and was through on goal.
Doni's dismissal brought Jones into the match, and he asserted himself instantly, diving to his right to save Yakubu's tame penalty.
But Yakubu made up for his gaffe in the 36th minute as a free-kick from David Dunn found the striker unmarked and free to head the ball into the bottom corner.
Carroll nearly gave the Reds a blistering start to the second half but was unable to get enough power behind his diving header, seeing the ball go wide of the goal.
Jones then undid his earlier good work when Yakubu charged down his attempted clearance, before the goalkeeper compounded his error by shoving the Blackburn striker and conceding a penalty, picking up a yellow card in the process.
Yakubu made no mistake from the spot second time out to draw scores level.
Blackburn failed to capitalise on their dominance after finding the equaliser, rarely managing to overcome a resolute Liverpool backline, though Jones was forced to tip over the bar after Carroll's misjudged header almost sailed into his own net.
With the match heading for a draw, there was time for late drama as Daniel Agger headed into Carroll's path for the towering striker to nod home an injury-time winner.
Meanwhile an Adam Federici-inspired Reading continued their push for automatic promotion from the Championship with a 1-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday (local time). The Australian goalkeeper made several good saves - including a penalty stop - as Reading continued their impressive run and drew level on points with league leaders Southampton.