Rovers were beaten at the death by Benfica, ending their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Premier League International Cup. 

Jacob Davenport put them ahead against Benfica B but they were pegged back in the final 10 minutes by Daniel Arjos’ equaliser at Leyland.

And Arjos struck in the third minute of stoppage time to secure victory for the Portuguese side and inflict a harsh defeat on Billy Barr's side. 

Having lost their opening game to Hertha Berlin at Ewood Park earlier this month, Rovers needed to avoid defeat if their debut venture in to the competition was to go beyond the group stages, with one game to play at Newcastle United next month.

It was a much improved display from Billy Barr’s side, beaten 3-0 in the league by Manchester City last Friday, who were without several key players because of injury.

But they were undone by Arjos' double as he came off the bench to strike twice late on.

Rovers are quickly back in action, hosting Burnley in the Premier League Cup at Ewood Park on Friday lunchtime, aiming to move one step closer to the last 16.

The game wasn’t two minutes old when the visitors threatened first. Diogo Pinto whipped in a cross from the left that found Nuno Santos in space, though he failed to get the necessary contact needed on his header as he glanced it wide of the target.

It was taking Rovers time to settle in to the game, with Benfica, happy to push lots of men forward, seeing plenty of the ball.

Jacob Davenport was continuing his run in the side and fired the first shot on target of the evening in the 12th minute from a free-kick won by Joe Rankin-Costello. They would have preferred the advantage, with Jack Vale clean through, but still went close from the set play as Davenport whipped it over the bar and drew a flying save from Fabio Duarte.

Andrew Fisher was back in goal for Rovers, getting some minutes for the Under-23s with his loan deal at Northampton not expiring until January. His first save came when a neat one-two allowed Kevin Csobath to get an effort away, one Fisher was equal to diving away to his right.

As the game began to open up, Rovers went straight up the other end, with Vale shooting straight at Duarte.

And it was to be three shots in as many minutes with Csobath shooting too close to Fisher from a promising position on the left edge of the box.

Barr had branded his side’s performance in defeat to Manchester City four days earlier as ‘terrible’ but was getting a response from his side who were moving the ball around with more purpose.

Patient approach play created room for Dan Butterworth, who’d had a quiet opening, but he shot wide from the edge of the area.

He would have another chance before the break, linking up with Vale to shoot wide again as Rovers ended the half on the front foot.

The visitors’ shooting from range had been somewhat lacking, with Pedro Almeida and Nuno Santos both ballooning efforts well over the bar in the early stages of the second half.

The deadlock was broken three minutes before the hour mark, scored, and made, by Davenport. He pressed high up the pitch, pinching the ball off Pinto and when clean through, calmly slotted the ball in to the corner.

The lead was preserved on the hour mark by a good Fisher save, keeping out an Almeida header as the visitors pressed for a way back in to it. The goal was the start of a frantic period, with Benfica having an even better chance in the 62nd minute, only for Rodrigo Conceicao to shoot too close to Fisher who saved again.

Not that Rovers weren’t without their opportunities. Joe Rankin-Costello raced forward from right back to collect a Vale pass on the edge of the box. After a touch to steady himself, he shot goalwards, with Duarte saving at the second attempt.

From a similar angle n the 67th minute Mols opted to try and square it for Vale, rather than go alone, but the ball evaded the frontman and the chance was gone.

Mols didn’t pass up a shooting opportunity shortly afterwards however, breaking beyond the striker to collect a Davenport pass. He twisted and turned to create a shooting angle, only to see his effort come back off the post.

Benfica were  becoming rattled, feeling decisions weren’t going their way, as Conceicao was fortunate not to receive more than a warning when raising a hand to Lewis Thompson.

A great opportunity presented itself to Pinto who should have done much better, when played clean through, than blaze over the bar with just Fisher to beat in the 80th minute.  

The equaliser wasn’t long in the waiting, however. A cross to the far post was attacked well by substitute Daniel Arjos who was able to guide his header in to the bottom corner.

Their tails were up, and another sub, Ilija Vukotic was next to go close with his effort from distance.

But Arjos would have the decisive say, his low shot across Fisher finding the bottom corner to spark celebratory scenes from the visitors.

Rovers: Fisher, Rankin-Costello, Whitehall, Carter, Thompson, Davenport, Evans (Brennan, 90), Mols, Butterworth, Paton, Vale

Subs: Hilton, Jackson, Pike, Boyomo, Saadi, Zimba