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Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Saturday, 21 August 2010 17:01 UK

Birmingham   2 - 1   Blackburn

Craig Gardner
Craig Gardner celebrates after earning the points for Birmingham

By Les Roopanarine

Craig Gardner and Ben Foster combined to thwart Blackburn as Birmingham came from behind to claim the points.

A slow burner came to life when Foster saved a Morten Gamst Pedersen penalty, awarded by Michael Oliver, the Premier League's youngest ever referee.

Pedersen soon made amends by setting up Steven N'Zonzi's headed opener, but Rovers' lead lasted just three minutes.

Pouncing on James McFadden's cushioned volley, Gardner levelled before sealing victory with a low 25-yard effort.

Gardner's decisive contribution, combined with Foster's crucial save, preserved an unbeaten home record stretching back to last October.

The same two factors also maintained Birmingham's interest in a contest which, briefly, threatened to run away from them, and which ended in a flurry of drama all the more remarkable for the tedium which preceded it.

Quick equaliser crucial - McLeish

The kindest thing you could say about the first half is that it suggested little change from last season, when you would have struggled to put a Panini sticker between Birmingham and Rovers.

Both earned 11 league wins and 13 draws, both finished level in mid-table on 50 points and, for 45 soporific minutes, the sense of their inseparability was maintained in laboured fashion.

Though Birmingham were quickly into their stride, their early tempo tailed off alarmingly; Rovers, initially promising on the counter, were little better.

606: DEBATE
ChuchoTheBlueNose

Not until Paul Robinson was obliged to turn over a meaty, close-range header from Birmingham defender Scott Dann was either goalkeeper obliged to make a save of note. By then, the clock was nudging the half-hour mark.

The obvious contender for man of the match at that stage was Oliver, who at 25 years and 182 days old was making an assured Premier League debut.

But the narrative of the game was to alter with jolting suddenness after the break.

A wonderful flying clearance from the veteran Blackburn defender Michel Salgado, who headed away a Gardner cross with the athleticism of a man half his age, was the cue for a catalogue of second-half incident, starting with the visitors' penalty.

Nikola Zigic, the giant Serbia forward whose ongoing tussle with Christopher Samba was among the afternoon's more diverting subplots, was rightly penalised for tugging his opponent's shirt.

Pedersen's subsequent spot kick was struck sweetly to Foster's left, but the former Manchester United man reacted brilliantly to turn the ball on to the bar and away to safety.

Foster admits 'homework' helped with penalty save

It was to prove a temporary reprieve for Birmingham, however.

Five minutes later, Foster did well to turn over an N'Zonzi header from Pedersen's long throw. But when N'Zonzi nodded across goal from the resulting corner, the England keeper was finally beaten.

Blackburn's lead was to last just three minutes. McFadden cushioned a volley across goal from a long ball into the box, and Gardner nipped in at the far post for a close-range equaliser.

Suddenly, a previously blunt contest was on a knife edge, with chances at either end.

Kalinic hit the post for Blackburn from Pedersen's floated free-kick, although he was perhaps not helped by the efforts of his team-mate, Samba, to reach the same ball.

Allardyce praises Blues keeper Foster

But with Birmingham's impressive home record in the balance - they lost just twice at St Andrew's last season, form which provided the platform for their highest league finish since 1959 - Gardner struck again.

Finding space in midfield, the midfielder, who joined from city rivals Aston Villa in January, rifled a low effort past Robinson from well outside the area, rendering the game's early lethargy a distant memory.


Birmingham manager Alex McLeish:

"It was a tough game, nobody could get going today.

"Ben Foster made a fantastic save from the penalty, but then we fell behind two minutes later, which was galling.

"But Ben saved us two points here today, there's no doubt about that.

"Up front, we don't really have the balance right yet, but we'll keep working to rectify that."

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce:

"One man's name will be on everybody's lips, and that's Ben Foster - he's the main reason Birmingham won today.

"We're very disappointed, having created so many chances, that Foster was in such great form.

"The penalty was hit brilliantly, but it was one hell of a save and unfortunately he made three or four of those.

"In terms of the chances they created, they didn't cause us too many problems, but we didn't take our chances."

Live text and stats

 

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Birmingham 2-1 Blackburn FT
(HT 0-0)
  • Gardner 57
  • Gardner 71
  • Nzonzi 54

Birmingham

Substitutes

Blackburn

Substitutes

Ref: OliverAtt: 21,394
BIRMINGHAM
BLACKBURN

Possession

  • Birmingham 50%
  • Blackburn 50%

Attempts on target

  • Birmingham 7
  • Blackburn 1

Attempts off target

  • Birmingham 3
  • Blackburn 3

Corners

  • Birmingham 3
  • Blackburn 11

Fouls

  • Birmingham 10
  • Blackburn 12
  • Final Result
  • Full Time
  • 90:00+4:55 The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
  • 90:00+4:38 Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Morten Gamst Pedersen, Roger Johnson manages to make a clearance.
  • 90:00+4:07 Morten Gamst Pedersen takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post.
  • 90:00+3:25 Unfair challenge on Morten Gamst Pedersen by Sebastian Larsson results in a free kick. Paul Robinson takes the free kick.
  • Correction - 90:00+2:17 Paul Robinson takes the free kick.
  • Correction - 90:00+2:17 Booking Sebastian Larsson is shown a yellow card.
  • 90:00+2:17 Free kick taken by Paul Robinson.
  • 90:00+2:17 Booking El-Hadji Diouf receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
  • Correction - 90:00+2:05 El-Hadji Diouf fouled by Sebastian Larsson, the ref awards a free kick.
  • 90:00+2:05 Sebastian Larsson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on El-Hadji Diouf.
  • 90:00+1:49 Keith Fahey takes a shot. Save made by Paul Robinson.
  • 90:00+0:58 Unfair challenge on Sebastian Larsson by Morten Gamst Pedersen results in a free kick. Stephen Carr takes the free kick.
  • 90:00+0:51 Defending throw-in by Stephen Carr (Birmingham).
  • 90:00+0:20 Defending throw-in by Michel Salgado (Blackburn).
  • 89:19 The referee blows for offside. Paul Robinson takes the indirect free kick.
  • 88:41 Foul by Brett Emerton (Blackburn) on Liam Ridgewell (Birmingham). Direct free kick taken left-footed by Ben Foster (Birmingham) from own half, resulting in open play.
  • 87:59 Attacking throw-in by Martin Olsson (Blackburn).
  • 87:34 Attacking throw-in by El-Hadji Diouf (Blackburn).
  • 85:55 The ball is sent over by Michel Salgado, clearance by Matt Derbyshire.
  • 84:44 El-Hadji Diouf takes a shot. Save by Ben Foster.
  • 84:08 Cameron Jerome is caught offside. Paul Robinson takes the indirect free kick.
  • 82:56 Sebastian Larsson delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from right wing, Morten Gamst Pedersen manages to make a clearance.
  • 82:56 Substitution David Hoilett comes on in place of Nikola Kalinic.
  • 82:56 Booking Ryan Nelsen receives a caution.
  • 82:52 Ryan Nelsen gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Matt Derbyshire.
  • 81:37 Direct free kick taken right-footed by Paul Robinson (Blackburn) from own half, resulting in open play.
  • 81:37 Substitution Birmingham substitution: Craig Gardner replaced by Keith Fahey (tactical).
  • 81:37 Foul by Cameron Jerome (Birmingham) on Steven Nzonzi (Blackburn).
  • 79:04 Attacking throw-in by Lee Bowyer (Birmingham).
  • 77:59 Roger Johnson takes the direct free kick.
  • 77:59 Booking Mame Diouf is cautioned.
  • 77:48 Mame Diouf gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Scott Dann.
  • 77:28 Attacking throw-in by Liam Ridgewell (Birmingham).
  • 76:50 Substitution Birmingham substitution: James McFadden replaced by Lee Bowyer (tactical).
  • 76:18 Attacking throw-in by Morten Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn).
  • 75:51 Inswinging corner from right by-line taken left-footed by Morten Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn) to centre, clearance by Roger Johnson (Birmingham).
  • 75:21 Morten Gamst Pedersen takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post.
  • 74:04 Morten Gamst Pedersen takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post.
  • 73:35 Morten Gamst Pedersen takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, clearance made by Sebastian Larsson.
  • 72:34 Morten Gamst Pedersen crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from left channel, clearance made by Cameron Jerome.
  • 72:34 Substitution (Blackburn) makes a substitution, with Mame Diouf coming on for Gael Givet.
  • 72:34 Unfair challenge on Nikola Kalinic by Roger Johnson results in a free kick.
  • 72:08 The ball is crossed by Sebastian Larsson.
  • 70:11 Sebastian Larsson provided the assist for the goal.
  • 70:11 GOAL - Craig GardnerBirmingham 2 - 1 Blackburn Craig Gardner finds the net with a goal from 35 yards to to the bottom left corner of the goal. Birmingham 2-1 Blackburn.
  • 69:16 Defending throw-in by Michel Salgado (Blackburn).
  • 69:02 Attacking throw-in by Morten Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn).
  • 68:39 Centre by Sebastian Larsson, clearance by Christopher Samba.
  • 68:00 Free kick awarded for a foul by Nikola Kalinic on Roger Johnson. Stephen Carr restarts play with the free kick.
  • 67:41 Defending throw-in by Gael Givet (Blackburn).
  • 67:06 Ben Foster takes the direct free kick.
  • 67:06 Booking Steven Nzonzi goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.
  • 66:58 Unfair challenge on Ben Foster by Steven Nzonzi results in a free kick.
  • 65:55 Substitution Birmingham substitution: Nikola Zigic replaced by Matt Derbyshire (tactical).
  • 64:43 Attacking throw-in by Morten Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn).
  • 64:37 The ball is crossed by Brett Emerton, blocked by Craig Gardner.
  • 64:08 Defending throw-in by Stephen Carr (Birmingham).
  • 63:42 Substitution Blackburn substitution: Phil Jones replaced by Brett Emerton (tactical).
  • 63:17 Attacking throw-in by Stephen Carr (Birmingham).
  • 62:50 Goal kick taken long by Ben Foster (Birmingham).
  • 60:51 Foul by Cameron Jerome (Birmingham) on Phil Jones (Blackburn). Direct free kick taken left-footed by Morten Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn) from left channel, resulting in open play. Header by Christopher Samba (Blackburn) from right side of six-yard box (6 yards), hit post.
  • 60:16 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Phil Jones by Cameron Jerome. Free kick crossed left-footed by Morten Gamst Pedersen from right wing, Gael Givet makes a clearance.
  • 59:59 Attacking throw-in by Michel Salgado (Blackburn).
  • 59:08 Attacking throw-in by Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham).
  • 58:50 Defending throw-in by Gael Givet (Blackburn).
  • 58:26 Shot by Nikola Kalinic (Blackburn) left-footed from right channel (20 yards), save (parried) by Ben Foster (Birmingham).
  • 57:13 Cameron Jerome (Birmingham) caught offside. Indirect free kick taken right-footed by Paul Robinson (Blackburn) from own half, resulting in open play.
  • 56:02 Assist (cross) by James McFadden (Birmingham) from left side of six-yard box.
  • 56:02 GOAL - Craig GardnerBirmingham 1 - 1 Blackburn Goal by Craig Gardner (Birmingham) right-footed (bottom-right of goal) from right side of six-yard box (6 yards).Birmingham 1-1 Blackburn.
  • 54:35 Phil Jones challenges James McFadden unfairly and gives away a free kick. Sebastian Larsson delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing.
  • 54:30 Attacking throw-in by Liam Ridgewell (Birmingham).
  • 52:40 Assist (cross) by Morten Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn) from right by-line.
  • 52:40 GOAL - Steven NzonziBirmingham 0 - 1 Blackburn headed goal by Steven Nzonzi (Blackburn) (high centre of goal) from right side of six-yard box (6 yards).Birmingham 0-1 Blackburn.
  • 52:40 Inswinging corner from right by-line taken left-footed by Morten Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn) to near post,
  • 52:16 Attacking throw-in by Morten Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn).
  • 50:39 Roger Johnson fouled by Nikola Kalinic, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Liam Ridgewell.
  • 49:50 Penalty taken by Morten Gamst Pedersen is saved by Ben Foster. Birmingham 0-0 Blackburn.
  • 49:20 Booking Nikola Zigic receives a caution for unsporting behaviour.
  • 48:21 Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Morten Gamst Pedersen, Penalty awarded for a foul by Nikola Zigic on Christopher Samba.
  • 48:09 Attacking throw-in by Gael Givet (Blackburn).
  • 47:38 Goal kick taken long by Paul Robinson (Blackburn).
  • 47:31 Craig Gardner has an effort at goal from a long way out that goes wide left.
  • 46:30 Foul by Craig Gardner (Birmingham) on Morten Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn). Direct free kick taken right-footed by Paul Robinson (Blackburn) from own half, resulting in open play.
  • 46:18 Sebastian Larsson produces a cross, Christopher Samba makes a clearance.
  • 46:12 Attacking throw-in by Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham).
  • 45:57 Inswinging corner taken by Sebastian Larsson.
  • 45:51 The ball is swung over by Craig Gardner, Michel Salgado manages to make a clearance.
  • 45:20 Attacking throw-in by Nikola Zigic (Birmingham).
  • 45:06 Defending throw-in by Stephen Carr (Birmingham).
  • 45:01 The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.
  • Half Time
  • 45:00+1:05 The referee calls an end to the first half.
  • 44:32 Foul by Craig Gardner (Birmingham) on El-Hadji Diouf (Blackburn). Direct free kick taken right-footed by Paul Robinson (Blackburn) from own half, resulting in open play.
  • 44:10 Attacking throw-in by Stephen Carr (Birmingham).
  • 43:38 Free kick awarded for a foul by Steven Nzonzi on Liam Ridgewell. Free kick taken by James McFadden.
  • 43:03 El-Hadji Diouf takes a shot. Sebastian Larsson gets a block in.
  • 41:41 Cross by Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham), clearance by Christopher Samba (Blackburn).
  • 38:55 Craig Gardner takes a shot from a long way out which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
  • 38:17 The ball is crossed by James McFadden.
  • 37:29 Attacking throw-in by Michel Salgado (Blackburn).
  • 36:29 Attacking throw-in by Gael Givet (Blackburn).
  • 35:45 Goal kick taken long by Ben Foster (Birmingham).
  • 35:35 Shot from long range by Phil Jones misses to the right of the goal.
  • 33:22 Goal kick taken long by Ben Foster (Birmingham).
  • 32:30 Attacking throw-in by Gael Givet (Blackburn).
  • 31:08 Foul by El-Hadji Diouf (Blackburn) on James McFadden (Birmingham). Direct free kick taken right-footed by Barry Ferguson (Birmingham) from left channel, resulting in open play. Shot by Barry Ferguson (Birmingham) right-footed from left channel (35 yards), blocked by Michel Salgado (Blackburn).
  • 30:00 Foul by Nikola Kalinic (Blackburn) on Roger Johnson (Birmingham). Direct free kick taken left-footed by Ben Foster (Birmingham) from own half, resulting in open play.
  • 29:14 Goal kick taken long by Paul Robinson (Blackburn).
  • 28:58 Inswinging corner from right by-line taken left-footed by James McFadden (Birmingham) to out of play, resulting in ball out of play.
  • 28:22 Inswinging corner taken by Sebastian Larsson, Scott Dann takes a shot. Save made by Paul Robinson.
  • 28:07 Sebastian Larsson takes a shot. Blocked by Ryan Nelsen.
  • 27:12 Goal kick taken long by Paul Robinson (Blackburn).
  • 26:56 Attacking throw-in by Cameron Jerome (Birmingham).
  • 26:37 Goal kick taken long by Paul Robinson (Blackburn).
  • 25:28 Attacking throw-in by Michel Salgado (Blackburn).
  • 24:13 The ball is sent over by Sebastian Larsson, save by Paul Robinson.
  • 23:48 Steven Nzonzi gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Liam Ridgewell. Ben Foster restarts play with the free kick.
  • 23:29 Cross by Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham), save (caught) by Paul Robinson (Blackburn).
  • 22:22 Outswinging corner taken by Morten Gamst Pedersen from the left by-line, save by Ben Foster.
  • 21:41 Inswinging corner from right by-line taken left-footed by Morten Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn) to near post, resulting in ball out of play.
  • 20:39 James McFadden concedes a free kick for a foul on Morten Gamst Pedersen. Morten Gamst Pedersen crosses the ball in from the free kick.
  • 19:54 Attacking throw-in by Morten Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn).
  • 18:34 Steven Nzonzi is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Ben Foster.
  • 17:32 Goal kick taken long by Paul Robinson (Blackburn).
  • 16:01 Goal kick taken long by Ben Foster (Birmingham).
  • 15:21 Foul by Stephen Carr on Martin Olsson, free kick awarded. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Morten Gamst Pedersen.
  • 13:39 Goal kick taken long by Ben Foster (Birmingham).
  • 12:29 Foul by Nikola Kalinic (Blackburn) on Scott Dann (Birmingham). Direct free kick taken left-footed by Ben Foster (Birmingham) from own half, resulting in open play.
  • 11:53 Attacking throw-in by El-Hadji Diouf (Blackburn).
  • 10:58 Foul by Barry Ferguson (Birmingham) on Phil Jones (Blackburn). Direct free kick taken right-footed by Paul Robinson (Blackburn) from own half, resulting in open play.
  • 10:28 Foul by Nikola Kalinic (Blackburn) on Stephen Carr (Birmingham). Direct free kick taken left-footed by Ben Foster (Birmingham) from own half, resulting in open play.
  • 9:44 Goal kick taken long by Ben Foster (Birmingham).
  • 8:51 Outswinging corner from left by-line taken left-footed by Morten Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn) to near post, clearance by Roger Johnson (Birmingham). Shot by El-Hadji Diouf (Blackburn) right-footed from left channel (25 yards), over the bar.
  • 8:16 Handball by James McFadden (Birmingham). Direct free kick taken right-footed by Paul Robinson (Blackburn) from own half, resulting in open play.
  • 6:55 Inswinging corner from right by-line taken left-footed by Morten Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn) to centre, clearance by Ben Foster (Birmingham).
  • 6:17 Liam Ridgewell challenges El-Hadji Diouf unfairly and gives away a free kick. Morten Gamst Pedersen crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance made by Craig Gardner.
  • 5:15 Stephen Carr produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the goal.
  • 4:57 Attacking throw-in by Liam Ridgewell (Birmingham).
  • 4:10 Cross by Stephen Carr (Birmingham), clearance by Christopher Samba (Blackburn).
  • 2:49 Inswinging corner from left by-line taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham) to far post, clearance by Christopher Samba (Blackburn).
  • 2:22 Goal kick taken long by Ben Foster (Birmingham).
  • 1:33 Nikola Kalinic (Blackburn) caught offside. Indirect free kick taken left-footed by Ben Foster (Birmingham) from own half, resulting in open play.
  • 1:11 Cross by El-Hadji Diouf (Blackburn), save (caught) by Ben Foster (Birmingham).
  • 0:27 Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Paul Robinson makes a save.
  • 0:00 The match gets underway.

Live text and data provided by The Press Association.



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Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 21 Aug 2010 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Chelsea 2 12 6
2 Arsenal 2 6 4
3 Bolton 2 2 4
4 Birmingham 2 1 4
5 Wolves 2 1 4
6 Tottenham 2 1 4
7 Aston Villa 1 3 3
8 Man Utd 1 3 3
9 Blackburn 2 0 3
10 Blackpool 2 -2 3
11 West Brom 2 -5 3
12 Liverpool 1 0 1
13 Fulham 1 0 1
14 Man City 1 0 1
15 Sunderland 2 -1 1
16 Everton 2 -1 1
17 Stoke 2 -2 0
18 Newcastle 1 -3 0
19 West Ham 2 -5 0
20 Wigan 2 -10 0

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