Pandiani hits the target to shoot down sorry Saints

Birmingham City 2 - Southampton 1
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The Independent Online

Walter Pandiani, despite suggestions that he does not want to be there at all, has found immediate approval at St Andrew's.

Walter Pandiani, despite suggestions that he does not want to be there at all, has found immediate approval at St Andrew's.

On a night that ended Birmingham City's run of four Premiership defeats and stretched Southampton's sequence without an away League win to 15, it was all about the new guard.

Pandiani needed only 12 minutes to bring his prolific La Liga ways to the chilly West Midlands; four more than Southampton's half-time substitute, Henri Camara. But only one could be in a winning cause.

The Uruguayan striker had a standing ovation when departing to leave team-mates, whom he did not meet until 5pm yesterday to complete the job.

Then his new manager added weight to Birmingham's pre-match shooting-down of quotes attributed to the man known as "The Rifle" about only being in the Second City under sufferance, a move to Fiorentina having fallen through.

"The kid was distraught, although he didn't fully understand,'' his manager Steve Bruce said. "He got his reward with a good goal and he's done that throughout his career. He wanted to play here and his enthusiasm rubbed off on everyone.''

Birmingham also introduced Jermaine Pennant and had a third loan capture, Mehdi Nafti, as substitute.

What they did not anticipate was a heel injury aggravated in the warm-up that forced out Emile Heskey and let Robbie Blake in for his first League start. He, too, was on target.

After David Prutton had side-footed past the post, Pandiani hooked wide on the half-volley from a glaring chance set up by Pennant and Julian Gray. It did not seem costly when the 28-year-old, who scored 50 goals in 128 games for Deportivo La Coruña, headed home inside the six-yard area from Pennant's superb right-wing centre.

The Southampton manager, Harry Redknapp, had seen green shoots of recovery poking through the wins over Liverpool and Portsmouth but was soon reminded that his side are still a shambles away from home. They were awful in the first half and the game seemed over with the second goal in the 40th minute.

Whatever may have been lost in the translation of Pandiani's comments to a Spanish radio station, Camara's position is crystal clear. He does not want to be at Wolverhampton Wanderers at any price and sensationally marked his latest lease of life after being signed, via Celtic, on loan. Released by Peter Crouch's header to a long 53rd minute ball, he reached the area before beating Maik Taylor with a stunning left-foot shot. "Let's hope Henri's got a few more of those in his bag,'' Redknapp said. "We're going to need them. We had them hanging on at the end but we need to play like that for 90 minutes.''

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Melchiot, Cunningham, Upson, Clapham; Pennant (Carter, 77), Johnson, Clemence, Gray; Pandiani (Tebily, 80), Blake (Morrison, 90). Substutites not used: Vaesen (gk), Nafti.

Southampton (4-5-1): Niemi; Telfer, Lundekvam, Davenport, Bernard; Jones (Camara, h-t), Prutton, Delap, Redknapp, Van Damme (Anders Svensson, 69); Crouch. Substutites not used: Smith (gk), Jakobsson, Higginbotham.

Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).

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