Joy for the home fans as Gardner slams in the equaliser from the penalty spot
By Mark Ashenden
Manchester City's title hopes were hit when a Craig Gardner penalty earned Birmingham a vital point at St Andrews.
The visitors scored inside four minutes when Carlos Tevez hooked in, only for Nikola Zigic to poke in David Bentley's low free-kick for a precious equaliser.
City regained the lead before the break when Aleksandar Kolarov curled in a stunning free-kick from 25 yards.
With 13 minutes left, Patrick Vieira fouled Kevin Phillips and Gardner fired in to snatch a draw for the strugglers.
Despite the Carling Cup finalists finishing this lively battle at St Andrews just one point above the relegation zone, they showed great spirit in the second half after trailing 2-1 at the interval.
Mancini rails against penalty decision
Bentley was a constant thorn in Manchester City's side and with new signings Obafemi Martins and Curtis Davies to come in, Birmingham should have enough to stay up.
With the league's top two Manchester United and Arsenal winning on Tuesday, three points was imperative for the visitors and it had all looked pretty comfortable at the half-time.
Roberto Mancini's men burst out of the blocks and no sooner had Ben Foster smothered Edin Dzeko's low cross, the Birmingham keeper was picking the ball out of the net.
The efforts by David Silva were crucial as the Spaniard's darting run carved open the defence and when he fed the ball through to Tevez for a second time, the Argentine squeezed in a low shot from 10 yards.
It was a shocking start for a team seeking only a second win in nine league games, but halfway through the first period their persistence paid off as they grabbed the equaliser.
Winger Bentley, a threat throughout on the left and right, drove a low free-kick into the box and as the defenders looked on, Serbian Zigic poked out a foot to get the slightest of touches for his third goal of the season.
It was no less than Birmingham deserved for showing great character after conceding so early on but as the interval loomed, but another set piece resulted in City going in front again.
Dzeko was hauled down clumsily by Gardner and Kolarov prowled on the edge of the box before curling the ball deliciously to the right of a bemused and wrong-footed Foster.
It was perhaps some comfort for Micah Richards, who had to be stretchered off moments before the goal with a head injury and was later taken to hospital with concussion after clattering into his team-mate Nigel de Jong when trying to clear the ball.
With the injured De Jong replaced by veteran Vieira at the break, the visitors found themselves increasingly exposed by the pace and menace of Bentley.
The player on loan from Tottenham lashed over from 30 yards and then set up Roger Johnson with a teasing cross from the right but the defender could only nod wastefully wide from six yards.
City, though, slipped into their shell, with only Tevez and Jerome Boateng showing occasional sparks of invention, and their complacency merely invited the hosts back into the game.
With Foster standing up well to block Tevez's effort when one-on-one, Manchester City were left to rue their wasteful finishing when Birmingham grabbed a fully deserved equaliser in the 77th minute.
McLeish pleased with 'tremendous' Birmingham
Vieira, who had already miscued a number of bad passes in midfield, blocked a run from substitute Phillips and referee Kevin Friend showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Midfielder Gardner showed no fear as he stepped up to belt home Birmingham's second and all-important equaliser.
With the last kick of the game, Kolarov was just wide with another dangerous free-kick but it was Birmingham who hung on, leaving Mancini to trudge off the pitch knowing his players had missed a huge opportunity to boost their title aspirations.
90:00+4:43 The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
90:00+3:31 Unfair challenge on Carlos Tevez by Roger Johnson results in a free kick. Aleksandar Kolarov produces a strike on goal direct
from the free kick.
90:00+2:59 Foul by Nikola Zigic on Jerome Boateng, free kick awarded. Kolo Toure takes the free kick.
90:00+2:23 Jean Beausejour crosses the ball, Aleksandar Kolarov makes a clearance.
89:04 Kevin Phillips takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a save. Inswinging corner taken by David Bentley, Roger Johnson takes a shot.
Save made by Joe Hart.
88:32 David Silva concedes a free kick for a foul on Liam Ridgewell. Direct free kick taken by Ben Foster.
88:14 The ball is sent over by Liam Ridgewell.
87:59 The ball is swung over by Jean Beausejour, Vincent Kompany manages to make a clearance.
87:51 David Bentley sends in a cross.
84:17 The ball is crossed by David Bentley, Vincent Kompany makes a clearance.
83:53 Foul by David Silva on Liam Ridgewell, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Liam Ridgewell.
83:08 Liam Ridgewell produces a cross.
81:44 Patrick Vieira gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Kevin Phillips. David Bentley produces a shot on goal direct
from the free kick.
80:55 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by David Silva from the right by-line, Kevin Phillips manages to make a clearance.
78:31 Jerome Boateng crosses the ball, Shot by David Silva from outside the box goes high over the target.
76:59 Patrick Vieira challenges Kevin Phillips unfairly and gives away a Penalty. Assist by Kevin Phillips.
76:59 GOAL - Craig Gardner:Birmingham 2 - 2 Man City Craig Gardner scores a penalty. Birmingham 2-2 Man City.
74:32 Nikola Zigic is ruled offside. Joe Hart restarts play with the free kick.
74:32 Substitution Lee Bowyer goes off and Jean Beausejour comes on.
72:59 Aleksandar Kolarov takes a shot. Save by Ben Foster.
72:52 James Milner crosses the ball, Martin Jiranek manages to make a clearance.
71:23 Carlos Tevez takes a shot. Save by Ben Foster.
70:31 The official flags Aleksandar Kolarov offside. Ben Foster takes the free kick.
69:58 Short corner taken by Lee Bowyer from the left by-line.
69:06 Substitution Kevin Phillips comes on in place of Cameron Jerome.
68:07 David Bentley crosses the ball.
67:17 Jerome Boateng sends in a cross, Stephen Carr manages to make a clearance.
66:02 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kolo Toure by Nikola Zigic. Direct free kick taken by Kolo Toure.
65:11 Carlos Tevez takes a shot. Save made by Ben Foster.
64:00 David Bentley decides to take the corner short. David Bentley produces a cross, Jerome Boateng manages to make a clearance.
63:28 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by David Bentley from the right by-line to the near post.
59:21 The ball is delivered by Cameron Jerome, save made by Joe Hart.
58:04 Corner taken by David Silva from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance by Martin Jiranek.
57:41 David Bentley crosses the ball, Vincent Kompany manages to make a clearance.
56:32 David Bentley sends in a cross, Roger Johnson has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide left of the goal.
55:40 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Lee Bowyer by Jerome Boateng. Direct free kick taken by Barry Ferguson.
54:44 The ball is swung over by David Bentley, free kick awarded for a foul by Roger Johnson on Joe Hart. Joe Hart restarts play
with the free kick.
54:11 David Bentley takes the outswinging corner, clearance by Vincent Kompany.
54:05 David Bentley crosses the ball, clearance by Aleksandar Kolarov.
53:49 Cameron Jerome fouled by Vincent Kompany, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Cameron Jerome.
53:30 Jerome Boateng takes a shot. Save by Ben Foster.
51:20 Shot by Craig Gardner from outside the box goes high over the crossbar.
50:06 Shot by David Bentley from outside the box goes high over the crossbar.
47:57 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Nikola Zigic by Vincent Kompany. Barry Ferguson takes the free kick.
46:37 Liam Ridgewell sends in a cross, save by Joe Hart.
45:42 David Bentley takes a shot from just inside the penalty box which clears the bar.
45:01 The second half kicks off.
45:01 Substitution Nigel De Jong leaves the field to be replaced by Patrick Vieira.
45:00+7:02 The match has reached half-time.
45:00+6:36 Jerome Boateng produces a cross, Ben Foster makes a save.
45:00+5:30 The ball is sent over by Liam Ridgewell, clearance made by Jerome Boateng.
45:00+3:50 Centre by Jerome Boateng.
45:00+3:32 David Silva takes a shot. Blocked by Roger Johnson.
45:00+2:49 Stephen Carr delivers the ball, clearance made by Jerome Boateng.
45:00+2:35 David Bentley produces a cross, clearance made by Vincent Kompany.
45:00+2:16 The ball is sent over by David Bentley, Aleksandar Kolarov manages to make a clearance.
45:00+2:05 The ball is swung over by David Bentley, clearance made by Vincent Kompany.
45:00+1:20 David Bentley fouled by Aleksandar Kolarov, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by David Bentley, Aleksandar
Kolarov manages to make a clearance.
45:00+1:20 Booking Aleksandar Kolarov is given a yellow card.
41:14 David Silva challenges Craig Gardner unfairly and gives away a free kick. Barry Ferguson restarts play with the free kick.
40:02 GOAL - Aleksandar Kolarov:Birmingham 1 - 2 Man City Aleksandar Kolarov finds the net with a goal direct from the free kick from outside the penalty box to the bottom left corner
of the goal. Birmingham 1-2 Man City.
39:02 Craig Gardner gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Edin Dzeko.
34:16 Substitution Kolo Toure joins the action as a substitute, replacing Micah Richards.
30:25 A cross is delivered by David Bentley, clearance made by Vincent Kompany.
29:32 Gareth Barry challenges David Bentley unfairly and gives away a free kick. Shot comes in from Craig Gardner from the free
kick, blocked by James Milner.
29:06 Carlos Tevez is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Ben Foster.
28:13 Shot from close range by Edin Dzeko misses to the left of the goal.
27:03 Lee Bowyer concedes a free kick for a foul on Micah Richards. Shot on goal comes in from Aleksandar Kolarov from the free
kick, blocked by Barry Ferguson.
26:12 Right-footed shot by Craig Gardner went wide of the right-hand upright.
26:12 Booking Nigel De Jong receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
25:01 The ball is crossed by Aleksandar Kolarov.
22:52 Assist by David Bentley.
22:52 GOAL - Nikola Zigic:Birmingham 1 - 1 Man City Goal scored by Nikola Zigic from close range to the bottom right corner of the goal. Birmingham 1-1 Man City.
22:14 Unfair challenge on Martin Jiranek by Jerome Boateng results in a free kick. The ball is delivered by David Bentley,
15:26 The ball is swung over by Stephen Carr, Nikola Zigic takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart. Corner taken by David Bentley from the
right by-line, Craig Gardner gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Carlos Tevez. Joe Hart takes the direct free
12:51 The ball is crossed by David Bentley, Headed effort from inside the penalty area by Cameron Jerome misses to the right of
11:30 Lee Bowyer gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on David Silva. Vincent Kompany takes the direct free kick.
11:16 Centre by Liam Ridgewell, clearance made by Vincent Kompany.
10:35 Corner taken short by James Milner.
10:06 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by David Silva from the right by-line to the near post, clearance made by Nikola Zigic.
8:30 Micah Richards gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Cameron Jerome. David Bentley produces a shot on goal direct
from the free kick, Barry Ferguson gets a block in.
8:09 Carlos Tevez takes a shot. Roger Johnson gets a block in.
5:58 Stephen Carr produces a cross, James Milner makes a clearance.
5:30 The ball is swung over by James Milner, save by Ben Foster.
4:22 Craig Gardner gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nigel De Jong. Jerome Boateng takes the direct free kick.
3:22 David Silva provided the assist for the goal.
3:22 GOAL - Carlos Tevez:Birmingham 0 - 1 Man City Carlos Tevez scores a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Birmingham 0-1 Man City.
2:17 The ball is crossed by James Milner.
0:20 Craig Gardner takes a shot from long distance which goes wide of the right-hand post.
0:00 The match has kicked off.
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