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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 August 2007, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
MyPa 0-1 Blackburn
Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz marked his birthday with Blackburn's opener
Blackburn put one foot into the first round proper of the Uefa Cup with a comfortable second qualifying round first-leg win over MyPa in Finland.

Roque Santa Cruz celebrated his birthday and his first full Rovers start with a well-taken goal.

Despite controlling the game, Blackburn rarely threatened to extend their lead to make their second-leg task easier.

Blackburn keeper Brad Friedel was never extended, with Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen solid in front of him.

Santa Cruz got Blackburn off to a dream start with a goal just six minutes into his first Rovers' start.

Blackburn took the lead when Jason Roberts slipped a cute pass through the MyPa defence for Santa Cruz to control and fire a left-footed shot across Janne Korhonen and inside the far post.


Blackburn were so far ahead of the Finnish outfit in terms of technique and tactical nous that the early exchanges were little more than a practice match in MyPa's bucolic little ground which resembled most Premier League clubs' training facilities.

Santa Cruz was picked out by a Stephen Warnock cross, only to plant his header straight at Korhnonen.

It took the home side 23 minutes to muster their first effort of note, with Mikko Hyyrynan's shot deflecting wide for a corner which was easily cleared.

There was plenty of work for Korhonen, but he proved more than capable, saving well as David Bentley and Warnock fired in long-range shots.

Blackburn had to endure something resembling a spell of pressure straight after the restart, with MyPa forcing a series of corners, although at no time was Brad Friedel in the Rovers' goal required to make any sort of save.

The 3,000 crowd even took time out from fending off mosquitoes to get behind their team as MyPa grew in confidence, and Christopher Samba was forced into a last-ditch tackle to deny Eero Peltonen a shot at goal.

Blackburn needed the cushion of a second goal to settle any nerves, and twice MyPa almost coughed one up free of charge.

First, Toni Huttunen chested the ball past Korhonen but was relieved as it bobbled wide of the goal, and then Tuomas Kansikas sliced a Bentley cross over his own bar.

Substitutes Brett Emerton and Matt Derbyshire then almost combined for a second.

Korhonen parried the Australian's shot and Derbyshire's follow-up was scrambled off the line.

  • Blackburn manager Mark Hughes:

  • "It was an excellent finish so early in the game. He showed his quality and getting a full game will help him.

    "We're encouraged by Roque, so early in his career here and he can only get better.

    "To be honest I'm surprised by how quickly he seems to have adapted. You have to complement him on the way he trains and plays."

    MyPa: Korhonen, Huttunen, Pulkkinen, Miranda, Kansikas, Muinonen (Puhakainen 53), Agboh, Kuparainen (Manso 65), Mustafi, Peltonen (Nykonen 79), Hyyrynen.
    Subs Not Used: Luukkonen, Marchis, Kangaskolkka, Gao.

    Blackburn: Friedel, Ooijer, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Bentley, Savage, Dunn (Kerimoglu 72), Pedersen (Emerton 72), Santa Cruz, Roberts (Derbyshire 65).
    Subs Not Used: Enckelman, Khizanishvili, Mokoena, Rigters.

    Booked: Bentley.

    Goals: Santa Cruz 5.

    Att: 2,012

    Ref: Oliver Thual (Brest).


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