EVERTON manager David Moyes refused to condemn Tim Howard after the goalkeeper’s error helped Blackburn Rovers get their season off to a flying start.
Howard raced out of his goal in the 14th minute to make a clearance, only to spill the ball for Rovers’ Nikola Kalinic to take advantage and slide the ball home for a goal that was enough to seal victory.
Moyes said: “The goal changed things. It happens. It was costly, though, a deciding moment in the game. But Tim has been really good for us.”
Everton went into the game with high expectations given they had a full squad to pick from but apart from Phil Jagielka’s shot late on they lacked a cutting edge.
Moyes added: “It was a tough game, a physical battle and Blackburn got the ball forward at every opportunity.
“We didn’t play as well as we can. We didn’t flow and our forward play was poor. We had very few opportunities.
“We didn’t put Blackburn under any sustained pressure except in the last 15 minutes. It was a game which came down to one small thing but we will move on.”
Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce, meanwhile, is backing Kalinic to make his mark in the top flight this season.
The goal was a huge boost for the player, who scored only two goals in the Premier League last season following his £6million move from Hadjuk Split.
Allardyce said: “It was a great piece of ability by Kalinic and maybe overshadowed by Tim Howard’s mistake.
“To capitalise on it fully with a really good swivel and finish was obviously why we bought him.
“It gives him huge confidence to score more goals in the Premier League. I think he will providing we can give him the opportunity to do so.”
Blackburn remained solid and the victory came on an emotional day with the club marking the 10th anniversary of former owner Jack Walker’s death.
Allardyce said: “It’s a big thing for a lot of people. If this has helped in anyway that is fantastic.
“We asked the players to start like they finished off last season. Everyone on the pitch did their jobs.
“There was a great chance for Martin Olsson before the goal while Mame Biram Diouf and Steven Nzonzi could also have scored.
“Everton did the double over us last season and to take three points off them is a big statement. Our expectations are about focusing on the first 10 games.”
Blackburn’s win was achieved even though influential midfielder David Dunn came off early with a groin strain
Allardyce said: “It was a disappointment to lose David so early as he was our leading goalscorer.
“That was a concern.”