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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 October, 2003, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Saints ease past 10-man Rovers
James Beattie beats Martin Taylor to the ball
Southampton 2-0 Blackburn

James Beattie helped Southampton end their goal drought, as Blackburn had Andy Cole sent off for fighting.

Beattie put Saints ahead with a 25-yard free-kick after 59 minutes, after his side had gone more than seven-and-a-half hours without a goal.

Cole was then red-carded after fists flew in a clash with Michael Svensson, as several players were involved in a fracas.

With Rovers pushing forward, a late goal by substitute Leandre Griffit - making his Saints debut - ensured that Blackburn boss Graeme Souness had an unhappy return to his former club.

An early chance came when David Thompson's cross found Cole, but the Blackburn striker was unable to pull the trigger, while Brett Emerton was soon robbed by a well-timed Michael Svensson tackle.

At the other end, ex-Rovers star Graeme Le Saux floated a free-kick into the box but Saints failed to make the most of a goalmouth scramble, as they were harried by the visitors at every opportunity.

KEY MOMENTS
59 mins: Beattie gives Saints the lead with a superb free-kick
65 mins: Cole sees red after clashing with Svensson
87 mins: Griffit scores on his debut to make it 2-0
Beattie, another Ewood Park old boy, tested Brad Friedel with a shot from the edge of the area in the 20th minute, and then headed wide from an acute angle.

Blackburn were again utilising Cole as a lone striker, but struggled for penetration in attack, while Saints' talisman Beattie was also keen to prove his England credentials after being left out against Turkey.

After pulling another shot wide, he forced Friedel into a smart catch from a 25-yard free-kick after Tugay had handled just before the interval.

Rovers looked better after the break, with Antti Niemi making a fine save from Barry Ferguson early on.

But the stage was soon set for Beattie when Saints earned another free-kick just outside the box - and he made no mistake this time.

After Rovers defender Andy Todd was booked for dissent, the game then flared up as Cole and Svensson clashed during a melee.

Referee Steve Bennett had no hesitation in showing a straight red card to Cole, while the Swede remained unpunished.

With Blackburn chasing the game, boss Graeme Souness threw on substitutes Matt Jansen, Paul Gallagher and Lucas Neill in a bid to salvage a point.

Neill, back after suspension, did go close with a 20-yard effort late on, which was caught by Niemi.

But it was Southampton who looked likelier to add to their lead, and only a last-ditch tackle by Martin Taylor denied Jo Tessem a goalscoring chance.

Their second goal eventually came when substitute Griffit - five minutes after replacing Tessem for his first Saints appearance - received a pass from Beattie, and curled a right-foot shot into the net.


Southampton: Niemi, Dodd, Lundekvam, Michael Svensson, Le Saux, Telfer, Delap, Anders Svensson, McCann, Beattie (Marsden 90), Tessem (Griffit 82).
Subs Not Used: Jones, Fernandes, Higginbotham.

Blackburn: Friedel, Reid, Gresko (Jansen 68), Martin Taylor, Todd, Flitcroft, Ferguson, Tugay, Emerton (Gallagher 68), Thompson (Neill 72), Cole.
Subs Not Used: Yelldell, Johansson.

Sent Off: Cole (65).

Booked: Todd.

Attendance: 31,620

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).


WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Five Live's Jonathan Legard
"It could have been worse for Blackburn"




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