Robbie Savage received the first red card of his career but hailed matchwinner Craig Bellamy as the best in the league after the Welshman gave Rovers hope of a top four finish.

On this day in 2006, Savage picked up two yellow cards in quick succession early in the second half, earning him a first red card of his professional card, before Bellamy came up with the goods to strengthen Rovers’ hopes of European football.

Savage’s red came nine minutes in to the second half, with Fabio Rochemback scoring a second equaliser, but Bellamy would come up with a winner to take his tally to the season to 13.

He opened the scoring with a fine solo goal, wriggling his way past a couple of challenges before curling a left footed shot out of the reach of Mark Schwarzer.

The visitors levelled five minutes later through Mark Viduka but the hosts’ lead was restored before the half hour through a Morten Gamst Pedersen free kick.

Chris Foy’s decision to send off Savage bemused Ewood, before Rochemback levelled just after the hour.

But the day belonged to Bellamy, smashing home a stunning winner midway through the second half.

Savage was quick to praise his fellow Welshman, adding: "He's on fire at the minute.

"He's a great player and a great lad and he's unstoppable when he plays like that.

"At the moment, I think there's no-one better in the league.

"Thierry Henry is obviously Henry, but Craig is still only young and, hopefully, he can achieve all his ambitions at Blackburn.

"European football is what we need and a player of Craig's talent deserves that and I think we'll get it. We've got a great chance."

Savage too pleaded innocence over his red card.

"In the past, I've played for Leicester, Birmingham and Crewe and I've had yellow cards early in games and then I've been lucky to get away with some tackles that even I thought were second yellows," the midfielder said.

"So maybe people will say 'it's about time' but I know where the line is and I've never crossed it.

"If I had crossed it, I'd hold my hands up and admit it, but I can honestly say that I didn't on this occasion.

"When I got booked for the first tackle on Boateng, I thought I'd won the ball cleanly.

"Okay, my trailing leg caught him but that's the way you tackle.

"And then for the second one, yes, it hit me on the arm but they were down by my side and they're obviously out when you're closing people down.

"To be fair, the Middlesbrough players did me no favours either by charging over to the referee and brandishing yellow cards, so that was disappointing."