Wayne Rooney was left to rue Derby County’s missed chances at key moments as they tasted a 2-1 defeat at Blackburn Rovers in the Sky Bet Championship on Friday night.
Derby took the lead midway through the first half at Ewood Park as forward Tom Lawrence glanced a fine header into the back of the net from Graeme Shinnie’s excellent left-wing cross.
Winger Patrick Roberts curled an effort narrowly wide soon afterwards and Derby remained in control as the half unfolded.
Blackburn, however, got themselves back on level terms shortly before the break as Sam Gallagher headed beyond David Marshall from a corner.
Rovers grabbed what turned out to be the winner with 67 minutes on the clock as Harvey Elliott fired beyond Marshall from the edge of the penalty area.
Derby tried to find an equaliser and with Tom Lawrence and substitute Colin Kazim-Richards having efforts saved, while Nathan Byrne hit the post.
The result leaves Rooney’s side 21st in the Championship table and four points clear of Rotherham United in the final relegation spot, although the Millers do have three games in hand at this stage.
Speaking to RamsTV after the game at Ewood Park, Rooney said: “It is very frustrating to have lost.
“It is a game I felt we played well in and I believe we deserved more out of, but if we don’t take our chances then we aren’t going to win games.
“I changed the way we played a bit to try and get our attacking players in better areas to get more chances at goal.
“I thought we did that well, but we need to start taking more chances because it is going to cost us otherwise. The two goals we gave away were sloppy, so we need to make sure we get ourselves ready for the next game now.”
He added: “I felt to have Tom Lawrence, Louie Sibley, Patrick Roberts and Kamil Jozwiak in forward areas and combining on the ball was something we could really have some joy with.
“I think we did, other than not getting the second or third goal. The performance was good and I felt we certainly didn’t deserve to lose the game.”
Derby had a late penalty shout as substitute Festy Ebosele appeared to be brought down in the box.
Referee Stephen Martin waved away the Rams’ appeals, much to Rooney’s frustration, and he said: “I think everyone in the stadium other than the officials could clearly see it was a penalty.
“I don’t want to talk about referees, I have done it a few times this season and it takes a lot of energy which I don’t really want to waste on that, but I felt that it was completely unacceptable.”
Derby are back in action in the Championship on Tuesday night when they head to Deepdale to face Preston North End (7pm kick-off).
Rooney concluded: “Games are ticking away and there is a lot of pressure on other clubs too, but we have to just focus on ourselves and focus on Tuesday. It is a big game for us and really a must win.”