United give Bruce the Blues
By Peter ORourke. Last Updated: December 20, 2005 8:44pm
Manchester United booked their place in the semi-finals of the Carling Cup with a comfortable 3-1 win over struggling Birmingham at St Andrews.
Second half goals from Louis Saha (2) and Park Ji-sung - his first for the club - were enough to give United the win, with Jiri Jarosik's late goal nothing more than a consolation for Birmingham.
United started the brighter of the two sides and could have went in front after just three minutes when John O'Shea headed Gary Neville's cross back across the face of goal for Giuseppe Rossi, who saw his volley come back off the crossbar.
Cristiano Ronaldo called Maik Taylor into the action three minutes later with a fierce free kick, which the goalkeeper did well to collect.
Birmingham created their first chance of the game on eight minutes when David Dunn worked a quick corner with Jermaine Pennant and Dunn saw his shot turned round the post by Tim Howard.
United should have broken the deadlock on 20 minutes when Darren Fletcher picked out Saha at the far post, but the Frenchman failed to direct his header on target.
Emile Heskey had a half chance for Birmingham on 32 minutes when he headed Pennant's free kick over the top.
Park fashioned an opportunity for himself on 36 minutes with some neat skill on the edge of the box, but he dragged his shot horribly wide of the target.
Heskey came close to opening the scoring three minutes before the break when the ball came off Neville to him inside the box and he held off Mikael Silvestre before firing a shot, which Howard did well to push away for a corner.
United introduced Wayne Rooney for Rossi at the start of the second half and within a minute, the visitors broke the deadlock through Saha.
Ronaldo broke down the right from Park's pass and sent over an inch perfect cross for Saha to knock the ball home from close range and send the visiting fans into raptures.
Matthew Upson had a lucky escape two minutes later when he failed to clear a ball in the box and he was relieved to see Rooney's acrobatic overhead kick fly over the crossbar.
United did double their lead on 50 minutes when Park swapped passes with Saha to break into the box and he blasted his left-footed shot high into the net past Taylor to net his first goal for the club.
Two minutes later, Rooney got through on goal, but Taylor was quickly off his line to keep out his effort.
The visitors did grab a third goal on 63 minutes with a superb effort from Saha.
Neville picked the former Fulham hit-man out on the edge of the box and the Frenchman flicked the ball up from his left foot to his right foot before firing an unstoppable shot past Taylor.
Birmingham pulled a goal back 15 minutes from time when Jarosik rose highest to flick home Pennant's free kick.
The home side continued to pour forward in the dying stages and substitute Mikael Forssell forced Howard into a save five minutes from time with a shot from the edge of the area.
|Birmingham City||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||7|
|5||Shots off Target||4|
| || || |