Blues ease into next round
First-half threesome ensures Carling Cup progression
By Elliot Ball. Last Updated: 21/09/10 10:19pm
Hleb and Gardner: Blues goalscorers
Three goals in four minutes paved the way to Birmingham City's 3-1 success over MK Dons at St Andrews.
It was a good night for Blues new-boys Alexander Hleb and Nikola Zigic as they grabbed their first goals for the club, while substitute Craig Gardner took just five minutes to get his name on the scoresheet to score his fourth of the season.
Dons managed to grab a consolation goal late on through Aaron Wilbraham but it was the Premier League side's night as they eased into the fourth round of the League Cup.
City manager Alex McLeish made nine changes from the team who lost 3-1 to West Brom at the weekend, with summer signings Zigic, Matt Derbyshire, Jean Beausejour and Martin Jiranek all handed starts, the latter two making their full debuts. Only Hleb and new captain Roger Johnson remained from Saturday's side.
MK Dons boss Karl Robinson made just one switch from the XI which drew 1-1 at home to Rochdale at the weekend, Mark Carrington coming in for Jabo Ibehre who dropped to the bench.
Robinson vowed not to change the Dons' passing style for the tie and the visitors certainly looked comfortable on the ball in the early exchanges.
But it was Zigic who should have opened the scoring for Blues after just eight minutes yet, with the ball having broken kindly for him in the middle of the penalty area, he waited far too long and was eventually escorted away from goal by goalkeeper David Martin.
The Premier League hosts were certainly more dominant in possession over the opening quarter and looking more threatening in the final third.
McLeish was struck a blow in the 23rd minute when Michel was forced off with injury having pulled up, with Gardner replacing the Spaniard.
But the Blues boss was all smiles within 60 seconds as Gardner found Beausejour on the left and he fed Hleb on the edge of the area who had plenty of time to pick his spot.
Within two minutes it was 2-0. Beausejour was again the architect, looping a ball into the path of Zigic who scored his first goal for the Midlands club.
And before the visitors could catch their breath, Gardner had rifled in a low third from distance to all but seal the tie.
Stunned Dons boss Robinson responded by bringing on forward Ibehre in the hope of snatching a goal before the break and the League One side certainly had their chances.
Ibehre himself saw an effort well blocked, Dean Lewington twice headed over and Lewis Guy stung the palms of keeper Maik Taylor.
Birmingham were more than comfortable in possession at the start of the second half, although veteran Taylor had to be alert between the sticks to palm Carrington's effort away.
The visitors had not quite thrown in the towel but they almost certainly knew the tie was beyond them as they looked to claw back a 3-0 deficit against a side unbeaten at home in almost a year to the day.
But that did not stop them going in search of a consolation as Guy harmlessly tested Taylor from distance.
Kevin Phillips was introduced for Blues with 25 minutes remaining, replacing the impressive Hleb.
Centre-back Jiranek side-footed over the bar when unmarked in a good position before Zigic headed wide from Parnaby's deep cross as Blues went in search of another goal.
But it was the visitors who grabbed the fourth of the night - somewhat deservedly for their efforts - in the 80th minute.
Substitute Wilbraham capitalised on a mix-up in the home defensive ranks and lashed the ball past Taylor and into the bottom corner.Dons pressed in search of a quick second as the majority of the 9,450 crowd inside St Andrews became edgy, but it was the home support who were celebrating at the full-time whistle.
|Team Name||Birmingham City||MK Dons|
|Shots On Target||3||5|
|Shots Off Target||4||5|
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