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Saturday, 17 August, 2002, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Sunderland hold Blackburn
Sunderland's Stephen Wright and Blackburn's Damien Duff compete for the goal
Duff tried his best to get Blackburn going
Blackburn 0-0 Sunderland

Blackburn created the majority of the chances but neither side were able to break the deadlock on a sun-kissed afternoon at Ewood Park.

Sunderland dominated the opening 30 minutes without actually putting pressure on the Blackburn goal, while Rovers - on the second anniversary of benefactor Jack Walker's death - struggled to find their rhythm.

But the home team - with new-look strike duo Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke leading the line - eventually went close on several occasions.

  Key moments
12 mins: Reyna's free-kick just misses
42 mins: Bjorklund clears Duff's effort
62 mins: Cole and Short go close for Rovers

Highly-rated winger Damien Duff caused problems for the Sunderland defence and his team showed enough to suggest that they will enjoy a successful Premiership season.

Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips led the line well for his team but a disturbing lack of bite in the final third highlighted the need for Peter Reid to strengthen before the 31 August transfer deadline.

Sunderland showed us great respect with the system they employed
Blackburn manager Graeme Souness

Stephen Wright - making his Sunderland debut - received the first booking of the Premiership season when he crudely brought Duff crashing to earth in the first minute of the match.

An open start to the match almost culminated in a goal after 12 minutes, but Claudio Reyna's free-kick drifted inches wide of Thomas Sorensen's goal.

Sunderland kicked off confidently, with Reyna and Gavin McCann superbly passing the ball through midfield.

But the visitors struggled to translate their dominance into goals and goalmouth incidents were at a premium.

Andy Cole, making his 300th League start, finally got a shooting chance for Rovers with 10 minutes of the half remaining.

Blackburn's Dwight Yorke and Sunderland's Phil Babb compete for the ball
Debutants Yorke and Babb tussle for the ball

The former Manchester United striker chested the ball with his back to goal, but his snatched shot on the turn flew high and wide.

Rovers, though, almost broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time.

Duff flicked a long ball over Sorensen but Joachim Bjorklund cleared.

From the resulting corner David Dunn smashed a volley narrowly wide of Sorensen's goal.

As the second half got under way Rovers increased the tempo and both Yorke and Cole had early chances.

Yorke met Duff's cross but his header was blocked and fell to Cole 10 yards from goal.

All in all, I have no complaints
Sunderland manager Peter Reid

Cole's shot struck Reyna on the hand but the referee waved play on.

Sunderland, defending ever deeper, invited Rovers to attack and Graeme Souness' team duly obliged.

Craig Short directed a header narrowly wide before Lucas Neill could only direct his header straight at Sorensen, who easily saved.

As the match wore on, Kevin Phillips and Reyna went close for Sunderland, while Duff had another chance for Rovers, but the game was destined to end goalless.

Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Short, Taylor, Johansson, Gillespie (Hignett 80), Dunn, Tugay, Duff, Cole, Yorke.
Subs Not Used: Grabbi, Unsal, Berg, Kelly.

Booked: Cole.

Sunderland: Sorensen, Wright, Babb, Bjorklund, Gray, McAteer, Reyna, McCann, Butler, Kilbane (Quinn 89), Phillips.
Subs Not Used: Craddock, Kyle, Arca, Macho.

Booked: Wright, Kilbane.

Attendance: 27,122

Referee: D Elleray (Middlesex).

BBC Five Live's Alan Biggs
"Some welcome relief for Peter Reid"
Blackburn boss Graeme Souness:
"We tried to go forward"
Blackburn's Craig Hignett
"They've obviously got an understanding"
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