Spurs edge Blues
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: 26/12/05 2:45pm
Birmingham boss Steve Bruce will again be cursing his side's luck as they went down to a harsh 2-0 defeat to Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
Blues could and should have been ahead before Robbie Keane slotted home from the penalty spot just after the hour.
Birmingham's spirited display continued, but the sending off of Muzzy Izzet not long after virtually extinguished the visitors' hopes of grabbing the point they deserved.
The win was put beyond any doubt in injury time when substitute Jermain Defoe fired home in style.
Birmingham would have been very happy with their first half efforts after matching Tottenham in almost every aspect.
Keane was denied after just a couple of minutes by Matthew Upson, after the Birmingham defender's own fluffed back pass almost sent the Irishman clear - but that seemed to spur Bruce's men into action.
Blues' first opening came just a few moments later and only Paul Robinson's brilliance denied the visitors.
It all arrived from Izzet's near post cross and Jiri Jarosik managed to get in front of Ledley King and stab the ball towards goal and only Robinson's wonderful reflex stop low down to his right kept the Czech out.
Spurs were toiling in midfield, especially on the flanks where Julian Gray and Jermaine Pennant particularly were causing havoc.
Pennant combined with Jarosik to create a good chance for Emile Heskey, but his towering header fell wide.
Some seven minutes before the break and Spurs' only real opening arrived when Birmingham failed to clear a corner and the ball fell favourably for King just 10 yards out - but he could only fire straight at Maik Taylor.
The second period saw Birmingham improve further and Spurs could and should have been behind just 20 seconds in.
The ball fell for Gray, after great work from Heskey and Jarosik, but the former Crystal Palace man will have been disappointed with his effort as he failed to beat Robinson from 12 yards.
The resulting corner led to another good chance for Birmingham as Upson rose highest to head powerfully at goal - only for Mido to be on hand to clear.
The influential Jarosik headed over from a Pennant free kick not long after and Birmingham were almost encamped in Spurs' half.
However, the longer the match progressed without Birmingham turning their good play into a goal - it always seemed likely Spurs would snatch something - and so they did, although it came via a hotly disputed penalty kick.
Keane turned tightly in the area and Upson was adjudged by referee Phil Dowd to have illegally felled the Irishman. Keane dusted himself down and duly dispatched the spot kick.
With Birmingham still seething, Keane was given the opportunity to grab his second in as many minutes as Edgar Davids threaded through a sublime pass to send him clear - but he could only fire straight at Taylor.
Birmingham looked to get back into the game with their own penalty appeal just after the hour - but instead their task of getting back on level terms was made even harder as Izzet was booked for a perceived dive after a challenge from Michael Dawson and Dowd handed him his marching orders.
Despite being down to ten men Birmingham continued to push, but they were leaving themselves open to counter-attacks and one of those should have seen Spurs extend their lead when Defoe raced clear of Stan Lazaridis, but he could only fire wide.
Having the extra man made life a lot easier for Spurs, although the loss of King to injury meant a slight reshuffle with Noe Pamarot coming on.
Pennant sent a free kick wide, but it was Spurs who looked the most likely late on and Jenas fired over from just five yards from a Michael Carrick corner.
However, the win was confirmed in the final minute when again Tottenham countered and this time Defoe made no mistake from just inside the box.
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|Tottenham Hotspur||Team Statistics||Birmingham City|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||2|
|4||Shots off Target||5|
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