Football: The Premiership / Sutton quick to show net profit: Blackburn's pounds 8m strike force find the target

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers. . . . .3

Leicester City. . . . . .0

THE momentum was some time coming, but Blackburn Rovers' pursuit of the championship is on again. The team that stumbled at Manchester United's heels on the home straight last season eventually sprinted clear of a Leicester City side who may soon find themselves preoccupied with the more desperate task of Premiership survival.

Chris Sutton required only 19 minutes and three attempts on his home debut to register his first goal for Blackburn and yield some dividend on Jack Walker's pounds 5m investment. Sutton's performance gave further evidence that his partnership with Alan Shearer may rival many of the current combinations.

Sutton may still lack the confidence and all-round productivity of Shearer, but he was undeterred by two earlier misses and gave Blackburn a 19th-minute lead.

Shearer, who scored from Sutton's knockdown at Southampton on Saturday, returned the compliment with a delicately flighted chip into the heart of Leicester's penalty area. Sutton launched himself into its flight-path and headed past a hopelessly exposed Ward.

Even so, it was not until the 59th minute when the Norwegian full-back, Henning Berg, claimed Blackburn's second, that Kenny Dalglish's ensemble produced the fluency required to stay with, and eclipse, the best at this level. Shearer's goal was mere embellishment.

Leicester, comprehensively defeated at home by Newcastle in their opening match, will feel last night's scoreline is a harsh representation of their endeavours at Ewood Park. Mark Draper's touch and shooting were unsurpassed by anyone in Blackburn's midfield, and the massive presence of Steve Walsh sustained the threat to Tim Flowers's goal.

Flowers was thankful for the assistance of a post as he scrambled to turn away Walsh's first-half header and made an important stop deep into the second, when Steve Agnew had the goalkeeper at his mercy.

Gavin Ward also made a significant contribution to Leicester's cause, and was perhaps fortunate Sutton was ruled to have fouled him before rolling the ball into the net for what would have been the former Norwich striker's second goal.

Blackburn toiled to raise the tempo in the second half until Robbie Slater's surge down the right created a chance for Jason Wilcox. Ward stood his ground to block the shot, but was then beaten following Wilcox's lofted centre. Sutton headed on, Shearer might have applied the decisive flick but instead the honour fell to Berg.

Now, at last, Blackburn were rampant and Ward lunged into a courageous double save to delay the third. That duly arrived, however, after 74 minutes.

Slater broke again, this time down the centre, and although his low shot came back off the foot of a post, Shearer swept in to score.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers; Berg, Gale, Hendry (Warhurst, 64), Le Saux; Ripley, Slater, Sherwood, Wilcox; Shearer, Sutton (Pearce, 84). Substitute not used: Mimms (gk).

Leicester City (5-3-2): Ward; Grayson, Willis, Hill (Thompson, 65) Mohan, Whitlow; Draper, Blake, Agnew; Walsh, Joachim (Roberts, 65). Substitute not used: Poole (gk).

Referee: K Burge (Tonypandy).