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Saturday, 24 August, 2002, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Yorke downs Blues
Dwight Yorke celebrates scoring for Blackburn
Yorke opened his account for Blackburn
Birmingham 0-1 Blackburn

Dwight Yorke's first goal for Blackburn was enough to seal a hard-fought victory against Premiership newcomers Birmingham.

The former Manchester United forward's superlative first-half finish proved the difference and should serve as a valuable lesson in the art of finishing.

Steve Bruce's side will need to start scoring soon if they are to avoid a relegation fight and the return to fitness of 4.25m striker Clinton Morrison cannot come quick enough.

Blackburn, meanwhile, will be pleased to have gained three points away from home given their poor showing last season.

  Key incidents
13 mins: Dwight Yorke gives Blackburn the lead
70 mins: Stern John forces a brilliant save from Brad Friedel

A firework display marked the return of top-flight football to St Andrews after a 16-year absence.

But the party atmosphere lasted all of 13 minutes as Yorke snaffled up David Dunn's deflected shot to give Blackburn an early lead.

The Rovers striker, a 2m summer signing from Manchester United, showed all his predatory instincts to dispatch a first-time left-foot shot past Nico Vaesen.

Birmingham's prospects of getting back into the match were as gloomy as the clouds which had gathered above the stadium.


We have carved Birmingham up, but we just didn't apply the final finish
Blackburn boss Graeme Souness

Dunn, pivotal in all of Blackburn's best moves and aiming to impress the onlooking Sven-Goran Eriksson, found Andrew Cole, whose first-time pass released Damien Duff.

Having outstripped a static Blues defence with a devastating turn of pace, the Republic of Ireland international darted into the area and was left one on one with Vaesen.

But the goalkeeper spread himself well to deny Duff what should have been Rovers' second of the game.

If Blackburn's football was superior in quality, Birmingham attempted to bridge the gap with endeavour, of which they had plenty.

Geoff Horsfield of Birmingham clashes with Craig Short of Blackburn
Horsfield could get past Short

They too had chances in the first half, Stern John proving a handful and having a shot cleared off the line by Craig Short.

And but for the brilliance of Brad Friedel in the Blackburn goal, Martin Grainger could have restored parity with well-struck free-kick.

Birmingham took the game to Blackburn after the break and a quick succession of corners almost brought the hosts an equaliser, Friedel again saving well to deny Geoff Horsfield.


We gave everything in terms of effort and endeavour, but we just needed that little bit of luck you require at this level
Birmingham boss Steve Bruce

Despite his sending off against Arsenal, Aliou Cisse showed no sign of tempering the competitive edge to his game.

Indeed, the Senegalese midfielder galvanised the Blues, providing the impetus in their quest for a goal.

John felt he should have been awarded a penalty following a strong challenge by substitute Henning Berg, but his appeals were turned away as was a powerful header by Friedel late on.

Bryan Hughes missed a superb chance for Birmingham late on, while some equally profligate finishing by Blackburn provided their hosts a glimmer of hope.

But Birmingham were not able to capitalise and could be counting the cost come the end of the season.



Birmingham: Vaesen, Tebily, Purse, Cunningham, Grainger (Lazaridis 82), Damien Johnson, Carter, Cisse, Hughes, Horsfield (Mooney 85), John.
Subs Not Used: Bennett, Michael Johnson, Eaden.

Booked: Purse.

Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Short, Taylor, Johansson, Dunn, Tugay (Berg 58), Flitcroft, Duff, Cole, Yorke.
Subs Not Used: Kelly, Grabbi, Hignett, Unsal.

Booked: Johansson, Berg.

Attendance: 28,563

Referee: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's John Murray
"Birmingham's effort couldn't be questioned"
Blues boss Steve Bruce
"We were unlucky"
Blackburn boss Graeme Souness
"Birmingham were always in the game"
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