Inspired Reina denies Blues
Liverpool keeper holds Birmingham at bay to earn Reds a point
Last Updated: 16/09/10 1:30pm
Reina: Top class saves
Pepe Reina was in inspired form as Liverpool held Birmingham to a goalless stalemate at St Andrew's.
The Spaniard produced three top-class pieces of goal-keeping in the first period to keep his side in the game, first denying Cameron Jerome's goal-bound header with a great reaction save in the 23rd minute.
He then punched away Sebastian Larsson's cross ahead of the advancing Jerome, before making another fine reaction save to deny Craig Gardner's header.
Liverpool improved after the break, but Birmingham's unmarked Scott Dann headed the best chance over the bar as the game ended as a stalemate.
On this evidence, new Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has plenty of work to do to make the Merseysiders a force to be reckoned with.
Barry Ferguson and Gardner bossed the midfield while James McFadden and Jerome linked well up front.
Reds skipper Steven Gerrard tried to spark his side into life but Fernando Torres still looks short of full sharpness with Dann excellent at the back for Birmingham.
The first decent chance fell to Torres after 12 minutes after Glen Johnson made a good break down the right flank before sending in a low cross.
But the Spaniard failed to make a clean contact on his attempted shot which he dragged a couple of yards wide.
Reina kept Liverpool on level terms with a superb reflex save away to his right to keep out Jerome's powerful header from Lee Bowyer's left-wing centre.
Blues midfielder Gardner became the first - and only - player to be yellow carded after 29 minutes for a challenge on Lucas Leiva.
Birmingham continued to look the more dangerous and Gardner dinked a shot over the bar after being teed up by Larsson.
Reina then punched away Larsson's cross ahead of the advancing Jerome before making another outstanding save to keep out a close range header from Gardner after another dangerous cross from Larsson.
In a rare threat to the home goal, Roger Johnson's tackle prevented Torres from turning and shooting from inside the box.
Roger Johnson then missed a good chance when he turned a Ferguson cross over from close range.
Blues keeper Ben Foster made his first save in the opening minute of the second half in clinging onto a dipping drive from Gerrard.
But City were soon back on the attack and Liam Ridgewell had a powerful header blocked from a Larsson free-kick.
Paul Konchesky got forward to good effect for the first time and his pass almost played in Milan Jovanovic but he failed to take the ball in his stride.
But Liverpool continued to look uncomfortable at the back and Dann missed another good chance for the home side.
He found himself unmarked from a Larsson free-kick but his downward header bounced over the crossbar.
The Reds enjoyed their best spell of the game and Foster beat out a rising shot from a narrow angle by Torres after he had been found in space by Gerrard.
Another chance went begging for the home side when Jerome headed wide at the far post from Stephen Carr's cross after Konchesky had given the ball away.
Raul Meireles made his Liverpool debut after 76 minutes in place of Lucas. Two minutes later Konchesky limped off to be replaced by Daniel Agger.Reina again did well in racing out of his area to chest clear from Jerome, while Foster went down to keep out a late drive from Torres as the game ended as a draw.
|Birmingham City||Team Statistics||Liverpool|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||3|
|13||Shots off Target||7|
Barclays Premier League
|4||West Ham United||16||28|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||16||17|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||16||14|