Football: Lightning Shearer strikes twice

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Southampton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

TIM FLOWERS hardly needed to display his credentials as Britain's costliest goalkeeper as Blackburn's previous capture from Southampton scored the goals that won a shapeless match.

Alan Shearer's first, midway through the first half, was a penalty fired into the roof of the net with a minimum of fuss after Ken Monkou had held back Mike Newell.

His second belonged to a match infinitely more spectacular than this - a glorious bicycle kick to send Kevin Gallacher's early cross past a helpless Ian Andrews.

Shearer was hardly in his most dominant form after recovering from the back injury that kept him out of England's team against San Marino, but two goals from two shots has to be considered a fair return.

Flowers, making his home debut following his pounds 2m transfer, was given few chances to show his quality by his old team-mates.

When Matthew Le Tissier playfully grabbed him after a clearance in the second half to try to detain him outside his area, it hardly seemed to matter. The game was so lacking in direction by then that both Flowers and Andrews could have gone for a picnic in the centre circle without any harm coming of it.

But then Flowers was suddenly required to make his one real save, throwing himself to his right, to beat out Le Tissier's nasty swerving free-kick. And within four minutes Shearer had put the match beyond doubt with its one moment of genuine class.

Andrews, preferred to the new signing Dave Beasant in Southampton's goal, had one busy phase in the first half. Within a minute he tipped over a dipping shot from Graeme Le Saux, deflected David May's close-range flick and picked himself up in time to hold Nicky Marker's follow-up header.

It was harsh on him that he should be beaten four minutes later in circumstances over which he had little control.

Southampton committed themselves to attack after Shearer's goal from the spot and Flowers was beaten once, Monkou's header from Simon Charlton's corner being cleared off the line by Alan Wright.

The game was characterised more by congested midfield combat than by chances created, however, and David Batty and Iain Dowie were two of the four players booked when they squared up to each other after one clash.