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Byline: ..HDLN: Football: Nonda's late strike gives Rovers hope

Mark Hughes believes Blackburn Rovers are in with a good chance of progressing to the last 16 after Shabani Nonda's late goal in Germany last night.

The striker, on loan from Roma, scored his sixth goal of the season with three minutes to go against Bayer Leverkusen. Even though Blackburn lost 3-2, Hughes is convinced they can turn things around in the return at Ewood Park next week.

David Bentley was also on target and those away goals could prove vital.

Rovers manager Hughes said: "It was a very important goal from Nonda and very welcome. At 3-1 it would have been a very difficult situation for us.

"While we created some good opportunities in the first half, we lacked a physical presence as the game progressed.

"A lot of players have had long-term injuries and some have not had a lot of football."

Jan-Ingwer Callsen- Bracker, Carsten Ramelow and Bernd Schneider scored for Leverkusen.

Rangers' undefeated run in Europe this season came to an end when they suffered a 2-1 loss to Hapoel Tel Aviv in Israel.

The home side took the lead through an impressive free-kick by Salim Toama just before the break before Nacho Novo hauled Rangers back into the game. But Baruch Degu ensured the win for the Israelis when he grabbed the winner with 15 minutes to go n Newcastle United skipper Scott Parker has pulled out of the squad for tonight's clash with Zulte Waregem in Belgium with a tight hamstring.

The former Chelsea midfielder was initially named in the party which flew out from Tyneside yesterday, but was withdrawn as a precaution.

Nicky Butt will take over as captain.

United States defender Oguchi Onyewu, on loan from Belgian side Standard Liege, is ineligible.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 15, 2007
Words:299
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