LONDON: Derby County ended the year looking doomed to relegation after losing 2-1 at home to Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League on Sunday.

Manchester City, at home, held Liverpool to a 0-0 draw in the day’s other game.

The early spotlight was at Pride Park, with Derby desperate for a first league victory in 14 matches against a mid-table Rovers side without a win in five.

Derby, beaten in its last five home matches, weathered some early Blackburn pressure, including a disallowed goal by Roque Santa Cruz before taking an unexpected lead through Matt Oakley after 27 minutes.

Costly miss

The game turned around 10 minutes later, though, with Steven Howard spurning the opportunity to give Derby a 2-0 lead when Brad Friedel saved his 38th-minute penalty.

A minute later, Santa Cruz, scorer of Blackburn’s previous seven goals, equalised with a simple tap in after goalkeeper Lewis Price could only parry a Benni McCarthy shot.

Blackburn went ahead in the 42nd minute when the impressive David Bentley scored what proved to be the winner with a low 25-metre drive.

Derby remains at the bottom with just seven points from 20 matches. Blackburn moved up one place to ninth with 30 points.

Arsenal, which won 4-1 at Everton on Saturday, tops the table with 47 points, followed by Manchester United (45) and Chelsea (41). United lost 2-1 at West Ham on Saturday while Chelsea beat Newcastle United 2-1.

The results: Derby County 1 (Matt Oakley 27) lost to Blackburn Rovers 2 (Roque Santa Cruz 39, David Bentley 42); Manchester City 0 drew with Liverpool 0. — Agencies

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