Bilyaletdinov's opener failed to inspire Everton to victory as Birmingham dug in
By Sam Lyon
Birmingham failed to win for the first time in six matches but still got the draw they needed at Everton to leapfrog Liverpool into seventh in the league.
An irrepressible start from the hosts was rewarded by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's stinger and Louis Saha was incorrectly denied a second by an offside flag.
But Sebastian Larsson curled in to level and Birmingham dug in thereafter.
Tim Cahill came closest to a winner but Everton could not break through and they stay two points off the drop zone.
The result may end a run of five straight victories for Birmingham, but Alex McLeish will be happy enough with a resolute defensive display from his side that extends their unbeaten run to nine matches and ensures they will spend Christmas Day within touching distance of those sides chasing a European spot.
Moyes disappointed with 'two points dropped'
And there were signs of encouragement for the Toffees too, who are starting to resemble something like the Everton side that has impressed so many in recent seasons even if they have only won once in 11 matches.
On this form they look more than capable of climbing the league, and having emerged from a run of matches against Tottenham, Chelsea and an in-form Birmingham with three points, they will surely look to push on over the festive period.
The two teams could hardly have come into the match in more different form - and yet the opening 20 minutes was little more than an exhibition of attacking football from the Toffees.
It was a blistering start. Bilyaletdinov kick-started matters, collecting Saha's neat flick, turning inside and slamming high into the net from eight yards.
Saha then latched on to Cahill's through-ball to slide home, only for the goal to incorrectly be ruled out for offside, while Cahill drove inches over from 20 yards minutes later.
Leon Osman also had a shot blocked and Cahill headed wide as Everton laid siege to the Birmingham goal, with some of the hosts' play irresistible.
However, unbelievably, Birmingham drew level on 22 minutes with their very first attack - and the goal was as well worked as it was against the run of play.
Larsson played in Christian Benitez, who held the ball up well and then laid the ball back for the Swede to side-foot in off the far post with an excellent finish.
McLeish happy with Birmingham's 'desire and drive'
At that point, Everton had forged nine attempts on goal, six on target, to the visitors' sole effort, but the match rarely hit those heights again.
Everton still edged the majority of the encounter, Steven Pienaar and Osman, in his first start since September following a knee injury, impressing in midfield and Saha a constant threat up front, but clear-cut chances were at far more of a premium.
Cahill looked as capable as anyone of restoring Everton's lead, the midfielder twice causing problems in the opposition's six-yard box from Leighton Baines crosses in the second half.
But in Scott Dann and Johnson, Birmingham boasted a centre-half pairing at the very top of their defensive games and they were imperious in resisting the hosts' attacking forays.
'Backs-to-the-wall' performance - Johnson
At the other end Tony Hibbert was proving equally as frugal, the full-back producing a superb last-ditch tackle to deny Benitez with the striker poised to pull the trigger eight yards out.
As it was, Everton's increasingly frantic attacks bore little fruit as Birmingham successfully strangled the hosts' earlier verve.
McLeish will now enter the January transfer window armed with the knowledge that his side look more than capable of living with the best sides in the league on their day, while Everton will hope that the return of a host of injured first-teamers will boost their push away from the relegation places.
Everton manager David Moyes: "I'm frustrated because we had opportunities in a game which I feel we were in control of and should have won.
"I didn't think Saha's disallowed goal would be the turning point at the time because I thought we were dominating the game and playing so well we would go on a score more goals. I thought our play was fine but I thought in the final third we were wasteful in our final pass and finish.
"(But) I thought Birmingham were really resilient. They are on a good run and they went up the pitch once and got a goal. They earned that because they worked really hard to stay in the game and we have not been quite good enough to break them down today."
Birmingham boss Alex McLeish: "It is a good end to the run up to Christmas. We were hoping we would remain intact on this unbeaten run up to Christmas Day.
"To come to Goodison, not play that great and get a point I suppose is a fantastic bonus.
"I know Louis Saha was not offside. We have had some like that go against us but it shows you, in a split-second decision, how difficult it is for the linesman."
90:00+4:35 The referee signals the end of the game.
90:00+3:56 Free kick awarded for a foul by Steven Pienaar on Barry Ferguson. Joe Hart takes the free kick.
90:00+3:00 The ball is sent over by Lucas Neill, Scott Dann manages to make a clearance.
90:00+2:06 A cross is delivered by Leighton Baines.
90:00+1:10 Indirect free kick taken by Joe Hart.
90:00+1:10 Substitution James Vaughan on for Leon Osman.
90:00+1:10 The referee blows for offside against Louis Saha.
90:00+1:01 The ball is crossed by Steven Pienaar.
89:54 Leon Osman has an effort at goal from outside the box which misses left.
88:36 Corner taken left-footed by Leighton Baines from the left by-line, clearance by Barry Ferguson.
87:31 Tony Hibbert crosses the ball.
86:35 Direct free kick taken by Johnny Heitinga.
86:35 Booking Cameron Jerome receives a caution.
86:31 Lucas Neill fouled by Cameron Jerome, the ref awards a free kick.
85:13 The official flags Louis Saha offside. Indirect free kick taken by Scott Dann.
84:46 Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Louis Saha misses to the left of the goal.
83:55 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson.
83:48 The ball is crossed by Gregory Vignal, clearance by Lucas Neill.
Correction - 83:09 Booking Joe Hart booked.
83:09 Booking Marouane Fellaini is shown a yellow card for time wasting.
82:44 The referee blows for offside against Marouane Fellaini. Joe Hart takes the indirect free kick.
81:49 Tony Hibbert takes the direct free kick.
81:49 Substitution Gregory Vignal joins the action as a substitute, replacing Christian Benitez.
81:49 Free kick awarded for a foul by Liam Ridgewell on Leon Osman.
80:56 The ball is sent over by Steven Pienaar, save by Joe Hart.
80:35 Leighton Baines takes the outswinging corner, Keith Fahey manages to make a clearance.
79:14 The ball is crossed by Leighton Baines, clearance made by Keith Fahey.
79:05 The ball is crossed by Steven Pienaar, clearance by Roger Johnson.
77:44 Centre by Johnny Heitinga, Header by Louis Saha from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the goal.
77:44 Booking Sebastian Larsson goes into the referee's book.
77:34 Foul by Sebastian Larsson on Tim Cahill, free kick awarded.
76:52 Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Sebastian Larsson, Tim Cahill makes a clearance.
76:42 Keith Fahey delivers the ball, Johnny Heitinga manages to make a clearance.
75:51 Effort on goal by Steven Pienaar from just inside the area clears the bar.
71:41 Effort on goal by Steven Pienaar from just inside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the target.
71:21 Centre by Leighton Baines, Roger Johnson makes a clearance.
69:45 Free kick taken by Joe Hart.
69:45 Substitution Diniyar Bilyaletdinov leaves the field to be replaced by Ayegbeni Yakubu.
69:45 Foul by Leon Osman on Lee Bowyer, free kick awarded.
68:36 Substitution James McFadden leaves the field to be replaced by Keith Fahey.
68:36 Leighton Baines has an effort at goal from outside the penalty area which goes wide right of the goal.
67:42 Marouane Fellaini challenges Lee Bowyer unfairly and gives away a free kick. Scott Dann restarts play with the free kick.
66:51 Leighton Baines crosses the ball, Shot by Louis Saha from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.
66:28 Corner taken left-footed by Leighton Baines from the left by-line, Scott Dann makes a clearance.
66:21 The ball is swung over by Leighton Baines, clearance by Lee Bowyer.
63:48 The official flags Tim Cahill offside. Joe Hart takes the free kick.
61:18 Unfair challenge on Christian Benitez by Johnny Heitinga results in a free kick. The free kick is delivered left-footed by
James McFadden from right channel, blocked by Leighton Baines.
60:40 Tim Cahill takes a shot. Scott Dann gets a block in.
59:57 The ball is crossed by Marouane Fellaini, Roger Johnson makes a clearance.
59:34 Tony Hibbert delivers the ball, clearance by Scott Dann.
59:19 The ball is delivered by Lucas Neill, clearance made by Scott Dann.
58:49 Corner from the right by-line taken by Leighton Baines, clearance made by Cameron Jerome.
58:43 The ball is crossed by Tim Cahill, clearance made by Roger Johnson.
55:18 The referee blows for offside against Tim Cahill. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.
54:35 Centre by Steven Pienaar, Louis Saha has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box missing to the wide right of the target.
53:26 Effort on goal by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov from outside the box goes harmlessly over the bar.
52:38 The ball is swung over by Leighton Baines, Tim Cahill has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide left of the
50:46 Steven Pienaar delivers the ball, clearance made by Barry Ferguson.
50:05 Stephen Carr concedes a free kick for a foul on Steven Pienaar. Leighton Baines takes the free kick.
49:50 The ball is sent over by Christian Benitez, clearance by Tony Hibbert.
48:18 James McFadden takes a short corner, The ball is swung over by Sebastian Larsson, Tim Howard makes a save.
47:36 Inswinging corner taken by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line, Tim Cahill makes a clearance.
45:01 The referee gets the second half started.
45:00+1:12 The first half comes to an end.
45:00+0:38 Unfair challenge on Cameron Jerome by Marouane Fellaini results in a free kick. Joe Hart restarts play with the free kick.
44:47 The ball is swung over by Cameron Jerome, save by Tim Howard.
43:23 Unfair challenge on Leon Osman by Liam Ridgewell results in a free kick. Leighton Baines crosses the ball from the free kick
right-footed from right channel, clearance by Scott Dann.
42:53 Leighton Baines takes the inswinging corner, Scott Dann makes a clearance.
42:47 The ball is swung over by Leon Osman, Scott Dann manages to make a clearance.
41:52 Handball by Christian Benitez. Tim Howard takes the direct free kick.
41:29 Centre by Liam Ridgewell, Leighton Baines makes a clearance.
39:36 The ball is crossed by Leighton Baines, save made by Joe Hart.
38:37 The ball is crossed by Louis Saha.
36:47 Liam Ridgewell produces a cross, Lucas Neill makes a clearance.
35:51 Leon Osman delivers the ball, clearance by Lee Bowyer.
34:28 Effort from outside the penalty area by Lee Bowyer goes wide left of the target.
33:35 Marouane Fellaini sends in a cross, Roger Johnson makes a clearance.
33:14 Steven Pienaar sends in a cross, Stephen Carr makes a clearance.
31:51 Marouane Fellaini concedes a free kick for a foul on Lee Bowyer. Sebastian Larsson delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed
from left channel, Johnny Heitinga manages to make a clearance.
31:13 Diniyar Bilyaletdinov produces a cross, save made by Joe Hart.
30:59 The ball is sent over by Leighton Baines, clearance made by Scott Dann.
29:01 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Steven Pienaar by Scott Dann. Leighton Baines crosses the ball from the free
kick left-footed from right channel.
27:09 James McFadden sends in a cross, Leighton Baines makes a clearance.
25:03 Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is caught offside. Joe Hart takes the indirect free kick.
24:47 James McFadden challenges Tim Cahill unfairly and gives away a free kick. Tony Hibbert takes the direct free kick.
23:40 Centre by Tony Hibbert, save by Joe Hart.
21:07 Assist on the goal came from Christian Benitez.
21:07 GOAL - Sebastian Larsson:Everton 1 - 1 Birmingham Sebastian Larsson finds the back of the net with a goal from the edge of the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the
goal. Everton 1-1 Birmingham.
18:24 The ball is crossed by Leighton Baines, Tim Cahill has a headed effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left
of the target.
18:07 The ball is sent over by Tony Hibbert, Leon Osman takes a shot. Scott Dann gets a block in.
15:17 Steven Pienaar produces a cross, save by Joe Hart.
13:39 Effort from inside the six-yard box by Johnny Heitinga goes wide left of the target.
12:59 Corner taken by Leighton Baines played to the near post, Marouane Fellaini takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
12:51 Leon Osman takes a shot. Blocked by Stephen Carr.
12:21 Louis Saha takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a save.
11:37 Leon Osman sends in a cross, Stephen Carr manages to make a clearance.
10:34 Christian Benitez concedes a free kick for a foul on Leon Osman. Free kick taken by Leighton Baines.
9:46 Tim Cahill produces a left-footed shot from just outside the area that goes wide left of the goal.
9:06 Liam Ridgewell fouled by Tim Cahill, the ref awards a free kick. Sebastian Larsson takes the free kick.
8:20 The referee blows for offside against Louis Saha. Joe Hart takes the free kick.
4:59 Assist on the goal came from Louis Saha.
4:59 GOAL - Diniyar Bilyaletdinov:Everton 1 - 0 Birmingham Diniyar Bilyaletdinov finds the back of the net with a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of
the goal. Everton 1-0 Birmingham.
4:28 Free kick awarded for a foul by Louis Saha on Roger Johnson. Direct free kick taken by Stephen Carr.
1:45 The ball is delivered by Leighton Baines, Tim Cahill takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
0:08 Foul by Liam Ridgewell on Tim Cahill, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed by Leighton Baines, Cameron Jerome manages to make
0:00 The ref blows the whistle to start the match.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.