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 Saturday, 7 December, 2002, 16:56 GMT
Beattie brace beats Blues
James Beattie steps up to score a penalty for Southampton
Beattie's penalty finally broke Birmingham's resistance
Southampton 2-0 Birmingham

Premiership player of the month James Beattie made it 11 goals in eight games for Southampton as his second-half double accounted for a stubborn Birmingham City.

Beattie netted a penalty on the hour mark and then made sure of victory for the Saints with a crisp finish seven minutes before time.

The win sees Southampton leap three places to seventh in the Premiership, two points behind Newcastle, and maintains their unbeaten record at St Mary's this season.

Key moments
7 mins: Anders Svensson's shot is blocked by Birmingham's Nico Vaesen
37 mins: Vaesen saves again from Brett Ormerod
60 mins: James Beattie's penalty gives Saints the lead
83 mins: Beattie scores his second from Jo Tessem's cross

Birmingham's problems in front of goal were immediately evident in the first five minutes when Damien Johnson found Clinton Morrison on the edge of the area with a free-kick.

The Republic of Ireland international, who has scored only four goals this season, rushed his left-footed shot and saw it drift well wide.

But it was Southampton who had the better chances of a scrappy first-half.

He has got a great level of fitness and I thought his performance against Birmingham was his best all-round game for us this season

Southampton manager Gordon Strachan

The lively Beattie delivered a dangerous low cross from the byeline but Anders Svensson's well-struck shot hit the legs of Blues' goalkeeper Nico Vaesen.

As half-time approached, Saints created a flurry of chances and Brett Ormerod was unlucky to see his shot from six yards blocked by Vaesen.

Moments later, Kenny Cunningham was forced to head off the line from Michael Svensson.

And Anders Svensson should have given the home side the lead as he escaped the attentions of Johnson, but his shot flew wide of the upright with only Vaesen to beat.

Anders Svensson hurdles Birmingham's Olivier Tebily
Anders Svensson could have scored for Saints

The pressure on Birmingham grew in the second half, and they hardly created a chance as Southampton continued to press.

The Saints' persistence was finally rewarded after 60 minutes when Purse was harshly adjudged to have handled Wayne Bridge's cross.

Birmingham's players argued furiously with referee Jeff Winter but Beattie stayed calm to dispatch Southampton's fifth successful penalty of the season.

The penalty decision has left us baffled, confused and angry and all I'm asking for is a bit of consistency

Birmingham City manager Steve Bruce

And it was no more than the home side deserved when Beattie struck again in the 83rd minute.

Jo Tessem, who had been on the field for just three minutes, crossed and the striker finished with his left foot from six yards out to end Birmingham's three-match unbeaten run.

Southampton: Jones, Dodd, Lundekvam, Michael Svensson, Bridge, Fernandes (Telfer 88), Oakley, Anders Svensson, Delap, Beattie, Ormerod (Tessem 79).

Subs Not Used: Blayney, Williams, Delgado.

Birmingham: Vaesen, Kenna, Purse, Tebily, Cunningham, Damien Johnson (Carter 71), Cisse (Fagan 81), Hughes (Kirovski 81), Lazaridis, Morrison, John.

Subs Not Used: Bennett, Hutchinson.
Booked: Damien Johnson, Morrison.

Attendance: 31,132

Referee: J Winter (Cleveland).

 BBC Five Live's Eleanor Oldroyd
"It wasn't a particularly memorable game"
 Southampton defender Jason Dodd
"Beattie was the difference"
 Saints boss Gordon Strachan
"We were very positive"
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