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Barclays Premier League

St Andrews Stadium (ATT 24,379) 2nd February 2011 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: K Friend

Birmingham Birmingham City vs Manchester City Man City

Birmingham 2

N Zigic (23)
C Gardner (pen 77)

ft

Man City 2

C Tevez (4)
A Kolarov (41)

Blues dent City's title hopes

Struggling Birmingham twice fight back to hold Mancini's men

By Ben Collins.   Last Updated: 02/02/11 11:31pm

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Gardner celebrates late leveller

Gardner celebrates late leveller

Craig Gardner's late penalty gave Birmingham a deserved point which could end Manchester City's Premier League title hopes.

Man of the match: David Bentley was a constant threat on the Birmingham right. The on-loan Tottenham winger whipped it several teasing crosses, including the free-kick for Blues' opener, and often cut inside. Goal of the match: Aleksandar Kolarov's left-footed free-kick, which curled into the bottom corner from 20 yards to put City back in front just before the break. Moment of the match: Patrick Vieira's foul on Kevin Phillips gave Craig Gardner the chance to give Blues a precious point and their top scorer took it with aplomb, slamming his late spot-kick high past Joe Hart. Comedy moment of the match: Ex-Villa midfielder James Milner managed to kick the flag out while taking a corner in the first half, much to the delight of the home crowd. Worrying moment of the match: There was a six-minute stoppage in the first half after Micah Richards clashed heads with team-mate Nigel de Jong. Richards was stretchered off and went to hospital while De Jong could only last until half-time. Talking points: Is Roberto Mancini right to feel aggrieved about the penalty decision which allowed Blues to deny City victory? Are City now out of the title race? Will Birmingham survive?

Having lost at Aston Villa in their last league game and seen Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea all win on Tuesday, Robert Mancini's star-studded squad knew they needed a victory to keep up with their title rivals.

They seemed on course at half-time as although Nikola Zigic cancelled out Carlos Tevez's deflected opener, Aleksandar Kolarov put City back in front just before the break with a fine free-kick.

But with the visitors again looking shaky from set-pieces, they failed to take their chances on the break and half-time substitute Patrick Vieira gifted Birmingham a 77th-minute spot-kick.

Top scorer Gardner converted his seventh goal of the season to give Blues a precious point and keep them out of the bottom three on goal difference, while City now trail league leaders United by eight points having played a game more.

Bentley impressive

Birmingham's never-say-die attitude surfaced yet again with on-loan David Bentley and Barry Ferguson impressing in midfield.

Edin Dzeko posted an early warning to the home side when his low cross was cut out by Ben Foster and in the fourth minute Tevez claimed his 17th goal of the campaign.

City broke with Tevez laying off for David Silva, who was then allowed to jink into the home before finding Tevez, and the Argentina striker tried his luck from a wide angle, with his shot deflecting inside the far post off Martin Jiranek.

Tevez took up another good position to latch onto a reverse pass from James Milner but he failed to make a decent contact with his shot and Foster saved comfortably.

Joe Hart was seriously tested for the first time after 15 minutes when he tipped over a 20-yard volley from Zigic.

Birmingham started to get a foothold in the game and drew level three minutes later from a Bentley free-kick on the left.

The on-loan Tottenham winger hit an inswinger towards the near post, where the City defence had let Zigic run to poke the low ball past an exposed Hart.

The visitors were rattled after their early dominance and Nigel de Jong was yellow carded for bringing down Bentley.

Micah Richards was then stretchered off after colliding with De Jong as he tried to clear from the City box and he was replaced by Kolo Toure after a lengthy stoppage.

Kolarov free-kick

And play had only been going again for a few minutes when Gardner fouled Dzeko just over 25 yards out and Kolarov stepped up to hit a curling left-footed free-kick round the wall and into the bottom corner.

De Jong had tried to continue after having his head bandaged following that clash with Richards but made wat at the break, with veteran Vieira coming on for the second half.

Bentley volleyed narrowly over from just outside the box shortly after the restart while Jerome Boateng tested Foster after exchanging passes with Dzeko down the right.

Birmingham replied with Jiranek fluffing a shot from 12 yards before Roger Johnson headed wide from Bentley's deep cross back in.

Tevez was linking up well with Silva and Foster did well to block a shot from the City skipper after Silva picked out his diagonal run.

And City would rue not increasing their lead as Birmingham levelled for the second time with 13 minutes left.

Vieira fouled fellow sub Kevin Phillips inside the box and up stepped Gardner to hammer the spot-kick past Hart into the roof of the net.

Both sides were pushing for a winner in a frantic finale, with Hart tipping over a deflected effort from Phillips while Kolarov curled another free-kick inches wide with the last kick of the game.

Birmingham CityTeam StatisticsManchester City
2Goals2
11st Half Goals2
5Shots on Target7
9Shots off Target4
4Blocked Shots4
6Corners4
9Fouls12
1Offsides1
0Yellow Cards2
0Red Cards0
71.7Passing Success76.9
11Tackles19
81.8Tackles Success57.9
46.5Possession53.5
54.4Territorial Advantage45.6

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Matches

Table

Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Liverpool 35 80
2 Chelsea 35 75
3 Manchester City 34 74
4 Arsenal 35 70
5 Everton 35 69
6 Tottenham Hotspur 35 63
7 Manchester United 34 57
8 Southampton 35 49
9 Newcastle United 35 46
10 Stoke City 35 44
11 Crystal Palace 35 43
12 West Ham United 35 37
13 Swansea City 35 36
14 Hull City 34 36
15 Aston Villa 34 35
16 West Bromwich Albion 34 33
17 Norwich City 35 32
18 Cardiff City 35 30
19 Fulham 35 30
20 Sunderland 34 29

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