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STOKES SCORES ON DEBUT BUT BLACKBURN BATTERED

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ANTHONY STOKES scored a superb headed debut goal for Blackburn Rovers after his summer move from Celtic.

But the former Hoops striker didn’t even bother to celebrate as Owen Coyle’s team were thumped 4-1 by Norwich City at Ewood Park.

It was a nightmare baptism for the Republic of Ireland frontman and his manager as Alex Neil’s Carrow Road side, relegated from the top flight last season, ran amok.

Central defender Shane Duffy, linked with Celtic, was powerless to halt the Canaries’ onslaught. 

A devastated Coyle, who took over from ex-Parkhead skipper Paul Lambert as Rovers boss in June after quitting MLS outfit Houston Dynamo, said: “I don’t think it’s one that we wanted, envisaged or anticipated.

“We started the first 10 minutes very well, on the front foot, and for all intents and purposes, we looked fine.

“Then the lad scores a wonder goal – I’m not sure he’ll score too many goals as good as that in his career – but that’s the quality Norwich City have.

“They’ve been clinical and ruthless and punished us for every mistake we’ve made. Having said that, it’s important that in those areas where the Hoolahans and Naismiths are popping the ball off, that we get pressure on the ball and get that tackle in.

“With all due respect, with the first three goals and even the fourth one, we allowed them time to play and, when good players pass and move at pace, it causes anybody problems.”

Former Hamilton gaffer Neil was obviously overjoyed and said: “We wanted to play in a manner which people are going to sit up and take notice of us and know that we mean business this season and we did all that, which was really pleasing.”

 
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