Hakeem Odoffin scored after 33 seconds as Rotherham United thrashed third-placed Blackburn Rovers to move four points clear of the Championship relegation zone.
The defender fired the Millers ahead with a sweet strike from the edge of the box as they made the perfect start trying to end a winless run of four defeats in six league games.
Rovers responded and dominated possession with Bradley Dack and Ryan Hedges wasting excellent first-half chances.
But Ollie Rathbone’s thunderous 18-yard shot made it 2-0 soon after the interval, Shane Ferguson scored with an inswinging corner and Conor Washington’s sharp turn and strike sealed an impressive victory.
Rovers, who could have gone to within six points of second-placed Sheffield United before the 15:00 GMT kick-offs, made an encouraging response to conceding the quickest goal in the Championship this season, but faded miserably after going 2-0 behind .
Blackburn’s second-half performance lacked conviction and composure, and backed up the statistics that had seen them fail to take a point from any game in which they conceded first this season.
Rotherham took full advantage of dismal early defending, setting the tone for a display full of spirit and confidence.
A sloppy long pass gifted possession to the Millers, allowing Leo Hjelde to race down the left. Although his cross lacked precision, Dom Hyam’s poor clearance fell to Odoffin who cut across the ball with his right foot to power the hosts ahead.
Blackburn responded well but clearly missed the goal threat of leading scorer Ben Brereton Diaz, whose partner is expecting their first child.
The impressive Dack’s creativity and composition brought control in midfield and the visitors dominated possession, spurning several excellent openings to draw level before the break.
Sam Gallagher’s touch let him down after being played through by Dack, who himself wasted a glorious opportunity when he headed wide at the near post, while Hedges was thwarted by an excellent block by onrushing keeper Viktor Johansson.
But the hosts, with rookie Sean Morrison outstanding in defence, held out and Rathbone smashed in their second goal via the underside of the bar to settle any nerves – and Rovers barely threatened thereafter.
Ferguson’s corner delivered to the near post deceived scrambling Rovers keeper Thomas Kaminski to make it 3-0, before Washington rounded off a slick team move – and performance – with a fine low strike into the corner.
Rotherham manager Matt Taylor:
“We have felt pretty low for the last six weeks or so. We have been lower than a snake’s belly.
“There was intent and we were up in their faces and there was great execution in the quality of the goals. That first goal gave us a huge boost.
“There has been honesty from myself, the players and the staff. We have brought some players in and changed the shape. We have simplified our approach to the game which seemed to help the players. We have generally kept a good team at arm’s length .
“The message to the players before the game was we were in a 20-game season now and we’re in the fight of our lives.
“It’s the biggest fight I have ever been in and we have to show that. When you are confronted with a challenge you’ve got one or two options. You can run away and hide and make excuses, or you can stand up to it and put your best foot forward. That was the way we went about our business.”
Blackburn head coach Jon Dahl Tomasson said:
“It’s a disappointing result and a poor performance. We talked about starting the game well and then conceded in the first minute.
“We had three big opportunities to get back in the game in the first half. They are probably the three best chances in the game. You need to take those chances.
“We need to apologise to our fans because it was a poor performance. The second goal killed us a bit. We need to stay in the game. We need to be creative in the final third.
“It was not good enough. It’s an extremely young squad and it is something they need to learn. There are no excuses. We can win every game and lose every game.”
- 21PeltierSubstituted forHardingat 88′minutes
- 23MorrisonSubstituted forwoodat 80′minutes
- 29HjeldeSubstituted forbramallat 89′minutes
- 22odoffinSubstituted forLindsayat 90+1′minutes
- 18RathboneBooked at 73mins
- 17FergusonSubstituted forKiosoat 88′minutes
- 5HyamSubstituted forPhillipsat 59′minutes
- 19hedgesSubstituted forDolanat 56′minutes
- 29It’s worth
- 9GallagherSubstituted forMarkandayat 56′minutes
- Dean Whitestone
Match ends, Rotherham United 4, Blackburn Rovers 0.
Second half ends, Rotherham United 4, Blackburn Rovers 0.
Goal! Rotherham United 4, Blackburn Rovers 0. Conor Washington (Rotherham United) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Daniel Barlaser.
Attempt missed. Richard Wood (Rotherham United) header from the center of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Daniel Barlaser with a cross following a corner.
Corners, Rotherham United. Granted by Daniel Ayala.
Substitution, Rotherham United. Jamie Lindsay replaces Hakeem Odoffin.
Substitution, Rotherham United. Cohen Bramall replaces Leo Hjelde.
Substitution, Rotherham United. Peter Kioso replaces Shane Ferguson.
Substitution, Rotherham United. Wes Harding replaces Lee Peltier.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match because of an injury Hakeem Odoffin (Rotherham United).
Substitution, Rotherham United. Richard Wood replaces Sean Morrison.
Goal! Rotherham United 3, Blackburn Rovers 0. Shane Ferguson (Rotherham United) left footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the right to the bottom right corner following a corner.
Corners, Rotherham United. Courtesy of Tyler Morton.
Foul by Jake Garrett (Blackburn Rovers).
Chiedozie Ogbene (Rotherham United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Oliver Rathbone (Rotherham United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Dilan Markanday (Blackburn Rovers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Oliver Rathbone (Rotherham United).
Attempt missed. Jake Garrett (Blackburn Rovers) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left following a corner.