Villa snatch late success
Agbonlahor's 87th minute header sinks Blues in derby
By James Pearson. Last Updated: 11/11/07 3:58pm
Agbonlahor: Celebrates his winner
Gabriel Agbonlahor struck late on to give Aston Villa an unlikely 2-1 victory over Birmingham at St Andrews.
Things began badly for Blues with former Villa defender Liam Ridgewell inadvertently turning Stilian Petrov's low cross into his own net on 11 minutes.
Birmingham introduced Mikael Forssell at half-time and he levelled the contest shortly after the hour mark with a bullet header from Daniel de Ridder's cross.
Blues nearly snatched a winner when Ridgewell's header looked destined to nestle into the far corner of the net before Agbonlahor superbly turned it wide of the upright.
If that was not a kick in the teeth enough, Agbonahlor's glancing header in the closing stages from Ashley Young's cross secured a late win in the 105th league meeting between the local rivals.
Blues began promisingly, and a deep ball across the box from Wilson Palacios picked out De Ridder on the right side of the Villa box - but his shot was blocked by Wilfred Bouma.
Blues appealed in vain for a penalty when Cameron Jerome's flick appeared to strike the hand of Zat Knight - but referee Steve Bennett waved played on.
Villa quickly moved into the ascendancy, and Carew should have done better when he turned past Johan Djourou but failed to make proper contact with his shot.
But after nine minutes, Villa took the lead via an own goal from their former defender Ridgewell.
Petrov whipped over a low cross from the right wing, and the ball hit Ridgewell's knee and flew past Maik Taylor into the corner of the net.
Taylor produced a fine low save to prevent Villa doubling their lead. Barry robbed Mehdi Nafti and released Carew, whose low drive extended the Northern Ireland No.1.
Olivier Kapo had a rare sight of goal for Blues but dragged his shot wide rather than trying to pick out Jerome, who was well placed.
Martin Laursen was dominating in the air at the back for Villa, and De Ridder was booked after going down in the Birmingham box when challenged by the Danish international.
Taylor again did well to block a low, close-range effort from Agbonlahor with his feet shortly before the interval.
Blues boss Steve Bruce opted for a half-time substitution, bringing on striker Forssell in place of Palacios.
Jerome had an early chance to bring Blues back on level terms, after turning in the Villa box, but Knight came across to block his eventual shot.
Scott Carson comfortably dealt with a low shot from Forssell, which took a deflection off Knight - but there were signs of City coming more into the game.
After 62 minutes, St Andrews erupted when Forssell brought Blues level.
Fabrice Muamba picked out the run of De Ridder, and his first-time cross was met by Forssell - whose bullet header gave Carson no chance.
Back came Villa, and Ridgewell produced a fine tackle on Carew as he prepared to shoot inside the Blues box.
But Birmingham had the momentum, and Carson parried away a pile-driver from Jerome.Nigel Reo-Coker missed a golden chance to restore Villa's lead when he fired wide from six yards out when completely unmarked - but Agbonlahor finally settled the issue.
|Birmingham City||Team Statistics||Aston Villa|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|5||Shots on Target||3|
|5||Shots off Target||9|
Barclays Premier League
|5||West Ham United||18||31|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||18||17|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||18||17|