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Page last updated at 13:40 GMT, Saturday, 1 May 2010 14:40 UK

Birmingham   2 - 1   Burnley

Christian Benitez celebrates
Benitez celebrated his 24th birthday by scoring his first goal at St Andrew's

By David Ornstein

Birmingham remain on course for their highest finish in 51 years after an impressive all-round display saw them past already-relegated Burnley.

The Blues, who came ninth in the top flight in 1959, went ahead as Sebastian Larsson's cross hit Cameron Jerome and went in off away keeper Brian Jensen.

Christian Benitez doubled the lead by chesting in after Roger Johnson headed a James McFadden free-kick across goal.

Steven Thompson hit a late consolation but a comeback was beyond Burnley.

The Clarets will hope to finish the campaign on a high against Tottenham next Sunday before preparing for life in the Championship.

Brian Laws' men showed plenty of spirit but insufficient quality and were deservedly beaten by a Birmingham team they were promoted alongside a year ago.

606: DEBATE
Sylar

Sunderland or Blackburn would have to win both of the final two games to have any chance of taking ninth away from the Blues, who need a point from their trip to Bolton on the final day to make absolutely certain.

They came into the match following a run of eight games without a win, but that did little to detract from the feel-good factor around St Andrew's - the home fans turning out in numbers to salute what has been an outstanding season for Alex McLeish's men.

Since returning to the Premier League, Birmingham have firmly established themselves in the top half of the table and look capable of making further progress next term.

They are well-organised and resilient in defence, combine steel and creativity in midfield, and benefit from a number of complimentary options in attack, all of which were illustrated from the outset against Burnley.

McLeish happy with season performance

The hosts, now unbeaten in 16 home games in all competitions, might have gone ahead inside two minutes when Lee Bowyer headed wide from six yards before Benitez delayed after being sent clear by Jerome.

Burnley, who have managed only two league wins since 31 October, threatened sporadically early on but Birmingham were in control and Jerome headed over before seeing Jensen react well to save his close-range shot.

Unfortunately for the visitors, Jensen's reflexes were not quite so sharp when he diverted the ball into his own net after Jerome forced Larsson's cross towards goal.

Considering the game carried little significance for either side, it was developing into a fairly enticing spectacle and shortly before half-time Birmingham doubled their lead.

Johnson headed McFadden's free-kick back across and Benitez easily guided it over the line, although Burnley were angry with referee Peter Walton's decision to penalise Gary Caldwell for the original challenge on Jerome.

Laws frustrated with defeat

Knowing that none of their previous 12 wins had come by more than a single-goal advantage, Birmingham might have been expected to sit back in the second period.

But they immediately went on the attack and, although that ensured they would have chances to embellish the scoreline, it also created space for their opponents.

Steven Fletcher did his best to take advantage with a fizzing drive that almost found the top corner and a stinging shot which was spilled by England hopeful Joe Hart in the Birmingham goal.

Realising the increased threat, McLeish's team tightened up at the back but continued to push forward with an expansive game that made full use of wide-men Benitez and Larsson.

Jerome was denied by a back-tracking Leon Cort after being released by McFadden before Larsson volleyed narrowly wide and high from a chipped Benitez cross and Benitez had a strike blocked by Jack Cork.

In fairness to Burnley, they continued to pressurise the hosts and there was faint hope of a comeback when Thompson drilled past Hart after being played onside by Gregory Vignal.

But for Laws' team, who may qualify for Europe via the Fair Play League if Fulham win the Europa League, it was too little too late.


Birmingham manager Alex McLeish:
"We were very keen to get on to 50 points and it was very important to sustain the home record. Not to lose here since September is a marvellous achievement.

"At the beginning of the season we targeted a point a game. Our tally could have been even higher.

"We have stuttered recently in terms of results but not performances.

Burnley manager Brian Laws:
"The disappointing thing is, with the ball we were the best side, we passed the ball very well. But we haven't defended two crosses.

"When you're down at the bottom end you never get the rub of the green. For the second goal it was a fantastic tackle from Steven Caldwell.

"We know what we've got to do. There's a lot to work on, we've got to work on both boxes but there's plenty of good play here as well."

Live text and stats

 

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Birmingham 2-1 Burnley FT
(HT 2-0)
  • Jensen (og) 29
  • Benitez 41
  • Thompson 87

Birmingham

Substitutes

Burnley

Substitutes

Ref: WaltonAtt: 24,578
BIRMINGHAM
BURNLEY

Possession

  • Birmingham 54%
  • Burnley 46%

Attempts on target

  • Birmingham 4
  • Burnley 7

Attempts off target

  • Birmingham 9
  • Burnley 5

Corners

  • Birmingham 6
  • Burnley 8

Fouls

  • Birmingham 11
  • Burnley 10
  • Final Result
  • Full Time
  • 90:00+4:18 The final whistle is blown by the referee.
  • 90:00+4:09 Martin Paterson sends in a cross, save by Joe Hart.
  • 90:00+2:21 The official flags Christian Benitez offside. Brian Jensen takes the free kick.
  • 90:00+0:12 The official flags Christian Benitez offside. Steven Caldwell takes the indirect free kick.
  • 90:00+0:07 Christian Benitez is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Brian Jensen.
  • 89:24 Joe Hart takes the direct free kick.
  • 89:24 Substitution Cameron Jerome goes off and Lee Carsley comes on.
  • 89:24 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gregory Vignal by Wade Elliott.
  • 88:15 Effort on goal by Michel from just inside the penalty area goes over the target.
  • 86:48 Assist on the goal came from Jack Cork.
  • 86:48 GOAL - Steven ThompsonBirmingham 2 - 1 Burnley Steven Thompson finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Birmingham 2-1 Burnley.
  • 86:31 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Steven Caldwell by Cameron Jerome. Direct free kick taken by Steven Caldwell.
  • 85:09 Substitution Kevin McDonald joins the action as a substitute, replacing Graham Alexander.
  • 83:56 Tyrone Mears sends in a cross.
  • 82:10 Martin Paterson produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the target.
  • 81:01 Inswinging corner taken by Daniel Fox, Close range header by Steven Caldwell goes over the bar.
  • 79:42 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line, save made by Brian Jensen.
  • 78:13 Substitution (Birmingham) makes a substitution, with Keith Fahey coming on for Stuart Parnaby.
  • 78:13 Shot on goal by Lee Bowyer from just inside the area goes over the target.
  • 73:40 Christian Benitez takes a shot. Leon Cort gets a block in.
  • 72:54 Corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson, clearance by Steven Thompson.
  • 71:36 Tyrone Mears takes a shot. Lee Bowyer gets a block in. Corner taken by Robbie Blake from the left by-line to the near post, clearance made by Michel.
  • 71:09 Lee Bowyer challenges Jack Cork unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Graham Alexander.
  • 68:45 Cameron Jerome delivers the ball, save made by Brian Jensen.
  • 67:13 Substitution Steven Thompson joins the action as a substitute, replacing Steven Fletcher.
  • 65:05 Substitution (Birmingham) makes a substitution, with Michel coming on for James McFadden.
  • 65:05 Centre by Graham Alexander, Headed effort from deep inside the area by Steven Fletcher misses to the left of the goal.
  • 65:05 Booking The referee books Gregory Vignal for unsporting behaviour.
  • 64:34 Unfair challenge on Gregory Vignal by Steven Fletcher results in a free kick. Gregory Vignal takes the direct free kick.
  • 64:05 Free kick awarded for a foul by Gregory Vignal on Tyrone Mears.
  • 64:05 Substitution David Nugent leaves the field to be replaced by Robbie Blake.
  • 62:49 Gregory Vignal crosses the ball.
  • 61:45 The ball is sent over by James McFadden, Brian Jensen makes a save.
  • 59:02 Free kick awarded for a foul by Martin Paterson on Gregory Vignal. Sebastian Larsson takes the direct free kick.
  • 58:10 The assistant referee signals for offside against Christian Benitez. Brian Jensen takes the indirect free kick.
  • 57:04 Sebastian Larsson produces a volleyed right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand post.
  • 55:29 Direct free kick taken by Brian Jensen.
  • 55:29 Booking Stuart Parnaby goes into the referee's book.
  • 55:25 Stuart Parnaby challenges Jack Cork unfairly and gives away a free kick.
  • 54:27 Shot from just outside the box by Christian Benitez misses to the left of the target.
  • 53:30 The ball is sent over by Daniel Fox, comfortable save by Joe Hart.
  • 53:02 Lee Bowyer concedes a free kick for a foul on Tyrone Mears. Brian Jensen takes the free kick.
  • 49:46 Sebastian Larsson delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from right wing, clearance by Graham Alexander.
  • 49:46 Booking Booking for Daniel Fox for unsporting behaviour.
  • 49:41 Daniel Fox challenges Lee Bowyer unfairly and gives away a free kick.
  • 48:47 David Nugent produces a cross.
  • 48:10 Steven Fletcher takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
  • 46:57 Martin Paterson takes a shot. Blocked by Gregory Vignal.
  • 46:09 Steven Fletcher takes a shot from a long way out clearing the bar.
  • 45:01 The referee gets the second half underway.
  • Half Time
  • 45:00+1:03 The match has reached half-time.
  • 44:35 Free kick awarded for a foul by Martin Paterson on Gregory Vignal. Direct free kick taken by Barry Ferguson.
  • 42:57 Unfair challenge on Martin Paterson by James McFadden results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Graham Alexander.
  • 40:53 Assist by Roger Johnson.
  • 40:53 GOAL - Christian BenitezBirmingham 2 - 0 Burnley Goal scored by Christian Benitez from inside the six-yard box low into the middle of the goal. Birmingham 2-0 Burnley.
  • 40:23 Steven Caldwell challenges Cameron Jerome unfairly and gives away a free kick. The ball is sent over by James McFadden,
  • 37:41 The ball is swung over by Martin Paterson, Liam Ridgewell makes a clearance. Pass corner from left by-line crossed in by Graham Alexander.
  • 37:15 Sebastian Larsson is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Daniel Fox takes the indirect free kick.
  • 34:19 Jack Cork crosses the ball, blocked by Roger Johnson. Corner taken right-footed by Graham Alexander, Leon Cort takes a shot. Blocked by Liam Ridgewell.
  • 32:49 Free kick awarded for a foul by Gregory Vignal on Martin Paterson. Direct free kick taken by Tyrone Mears.
  • 31:36 The referee gives a free kick against Steven Caldwell for handball. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Sebastian Larsson, Unfair challenge on Steven Fletcher by Roger Johnson results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Brian Jensen.
  • 28:44 The assist for the goal came from Cameron Jerome.
  • 28:44 GOAL - Brian JensenBirmingham 1 - 0 Burnley An own goal is conceded by Brian Jensen. Birmingham 1-0 Burnley.
  • 28:33 Gregory Vignal sends in a cross, Steven Caldwell manages to make a clearance. The ball is sent over by Sebastian Larsson, Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Blocked by Brian Jensen.
  • 26:53 Foul by Cameron Jerome on Steven Caldwell, free kick awarded. Brian Jensen restarts play with the free kick.
  • 25:54 Martin Paterson crosses the ball, Gregory Vignal gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken by Daniel Fox from the right by-line, Steven Fletcher challenges Gregory Vignal unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.
  • 25:11 The ball is crossed by Wade Elliott, Liam Ridgewell makes a clearance.
  • 23:24 Corner taken by Graham Alexander.
  • 23:16 The ball is swung over by Martin Paterson, Stuart Parnaby makes a clearance.
  • 22:52 Shot by Jack Cork from 25 yards. Joe Hart makes a save.
  • 21:45 Martin Paterson crosses the ball.
  • 20:13 The ball is swung over by Martin Paterson, Liam Ridgewell makes a clearance. Daniel Fox decides to take the corner short.
  • 19:57 Unfair challenge on Jack Cork by Sebastian Larsson results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Graham Alexander.
  • 18:05 Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Save by Brian Jensen. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by James McFadden.
  • 16:49 Inswinging corner taken by James McFadden from the right by-line, Close range header by Cameron Jerome goes over the crossbar.
  • 16:37 Jack Cork produces a cross, clearance made by Sebastian Larsson.
  • 15:53 Corner taken by Daniel Fox from the right by-line, Liam Ridgewell manages to make a clearance.
  • 15:03 Roger Johnson sends in a cross, clearance made by Leon Cort. Long range shot by Gregory Vignal goes wide left of the goal.
  • 13:40 Cameron Jerome has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide right of the goal.
  • 10:43 Wade Elliott gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sebastian Larsson. Gregory Vignal restarts play with the free kick.
  • 9:57 Christian Benitez is ruled offside. Brian Jensen takes the indirect free kick.
  • 9:17 Martin Paterson takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
  • 7:52 Christian Benitez takes a shot. Steven Caldwell gets a block in. Corner taken by Sebastian Larsson, clearance by David Nugent. Corner taken right-footed by Lee Bowyer from the right by-line, save by Brian Jensen.
  • 6:14 Unfair challenge on Steven Fletcher by Lee Bowyer results in a free kick. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Daniel Fox.
  • 5:01 The ball is delivered by Martin Paterson, clearance made by Roger Johnson.
  • 2:40 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Lee Bowyer by Wade Elliott. Free kick taken by Liam Ridgewell.
  • 1:38 Unfair challenge on Barry Ferguson by Wade Elliott results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Barry Ferguson.
  • 0:57 Cameron Jerome produces a cross, Header from close in by Lee Bowyer misses to the right of the target.
  • 0:00 The referee gets the game started.

Live text and data provided by The Press Association.



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Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 1 May 2010 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Chelsea 36 61 80
2 Man Utd 36 53 79
3 Arsenal 36 39 72
4 Tottenham 36 27 67
5 Man City 36 29 66
6 Aston Villa 37 14 64
7 Liverpool 36 28 62
8 Everton 37 10 58
9 Birmingham 37 -8 50
10 Sunderland 36 -6 44
11 Stoke 36 -11 44
12 Blackburn 36 -16 44
13 Fulham 35 -3 43
14 Bolton 37 -26 36
15 Wolves 37 -25 35
16 Wigan 36 -34 35
17 West Ham 36 -18 34
18 Hull 36 -41 28
19 Burnley 37 -42 27
20 Portsmouth 37 -31 19

see also
Birmingham opt to release Benitez
14 May 10 |  Birmingham
Burnley miss out on Europa place
11 May 10 |  Burnley
Saturday football as it happened
01 May 10 |  Football
Saturday's football photos
01 May 10 |  Premier League



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