Santa Cruz delivers for Blackburn

Myllykosken Pallo-47 0-1 Blackburn Rovers FC
Roque Santa Cruz celebrated his 26th birthday in style with the only goal of the first-leg tie in Finland.

Roque Santa Cruz enjoys his goal in Finland
Roque Santa Cruz enjoys his goal in Finland ©Getty Images

A solitary strike from birthday boy Roque Santa Cruz was enough to give Blackburn Rovers FC victory over Myllykosken Pallo-47 – and a slender advantage to take into the second leg at Ewood Park.

Scoring start
Santa Cruz gave the English Premier League visitors the lead on six minutes when, after receiving the ball from Jason Roberts, the Paraguay striker fired left-footed across the goalkeeper from ten metres. The summer signing from FC Bayern München was making his first start for Mark Hughes's side after a goalscoring appearance from the bench at the weekend.

Intertoto winners
Finnish club MyPa, who had beaten EB/Streymur from the Faroe Islands 2-1 on aggregate in the first qualifying round, posed little threat during the first half with their best opportunity falling to Mikko Hyyrynen who dragged his shot wide of Brad Friedel's goal. Blackburn, one of eleven UEFA Intertoto Cup winners entering the competition at this stage, encountered stiffer resistance during the opening exchanges of the second period. However, their central defenders, Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen, dealt with everything that came their way.

Missed chance
Blackburn had the chance to double their advantage on 74 minutes when Santa Cruz's deft touch inside the MyPa penalty box picked out Brett Emerton whose low shot was parried by Janne Korhonen. The return leg of the second qualifying round tie takes place in north-west England in two weeks' time.