Football: Shearer braced for action

Blackburn Rovers. . . .3

Shearer pen 17, 72, Sutton 56

Aston Villa . . . . . .1

Ehiogu 90

Attendance: 22,694

BOTH sides may have had this week's European duties firmly on their mind making the outcome more cheering for Blackburn, who face a visit to Sweden in an attempt to restore their status against the part-timers of Trelleborgs.

Rovers were more than worthy winners although it was obvious from the start that Villa had not come to ask them any serious questions, settling quickly into a five-men-across-the-back formation.

Arguably this was justifiable against Blackburn's pounds 8m striking partnership, but in the end it was a futile gesture as Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer's understanding continues to mature and, if the signs are to be believed, they could become the trump card which will win the pot for Blackburn.

They shared the goals in more ways than one. In the 17th minute, it was Sutton's threat that was ended by Ugo Ehiogu's foul and Shearer confidently struck the penalty beyond Mark Bosnich. The second, in the 55th minute, saw Shearer return the favour when his shot from Stuart Ripley's cross thumped off Ehiogu's chest and Sutton got his toe to the second shot and poked it beyond Bosnich. The Villa keeper obviously felt something nefarious had gone on and rushed to the referee to put his case. The result, inevitably, was a yellow card.

The deadly duo's contribution for the 71st-minute third goal, however, was the act that brought the house down around Villa's ears. Sutton confidently gathered a long clearance from his goalkeeper Tim Flowers and laid the pass precisely into Shearer's path. The England striker steamed past Ehiogu, destroying him for both pace and power to thump a thrilling 15-yard shot into the Villa net.

Had there been any zimmer frames in Ewood Park they would have been rattled in appreciation of the kind of goal that Nat Lofthouse, the Lion of Vienna, used to specialise in. A repeat in Sweden next week will certainly turn Shearer into the Lion of Trelleborgs.

By then Villa were well and truly hung out to dry and even had the misfortune to have their substitute Nii Lamptey taken off on a stretcher. His replacement Graham Fenton brought Villa a glimmer of consolation when he smacked a shot against Flowers's woodwork. The real thing came in injury time. Ehiogu, momentarily giving up the lost cause of curtailing the Shearer-Sutton menace, went forward to head Kevin Richardson's free-kick firmly past Flowers.

Villa were so intent on holding their ground that there was little or no evidence of how they will muster the wit to pull back their one-goal deficit when Internazionale come to Villa Park on Thursday. Dalian Atkinson still likes to put his head down and run at defenders, a tactic easily thwarted here, while Dean Saunders was a forlorn figure for most of the 90 minutes. One snap header which landed in Flowers's midriff was his only notable contribution.

Paul McGrath wisely left the tight marking to the younger legs of Ehiogu and Shaun Teale, before the transfer-listed defender was replaced by the unfortunate Lamptey. But even this deployment of the Irish international as a sort of sweeper could not stem Shearer and Sutton's propensity to do damage where it most hurts.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam