Premier League: Tottenham 2 Birmingham 1

There was no dream ending to an extraordinary season for Birmingham, as they were relegated on the final day after winning the Carling Cup and qualifying for Europe.Alex McLeish’s men needed victory to give themselves a realistic chance of staying up, and for a few minutes were out of the relegation zone when Craig Gardner equalised Roman Pavlyuchenko’s opener for Spurs.

But as results elsewhere were going against them, Birmingham were already heading to the Championship before Pavlyuchenko struck a second goal, deep into stoppage time, to confirm the victory that left Spurs in fifth place.

There was not much else to get excited about in a tepid first-half.

Although Spurs were not playing for their Premier League lives, like their visitors, they had incentive enough to win and secure automatic qualification for the Europa League rather than go through the qualifying stages, which start next month.

Luca Modric had a long shot saved comfortably shortly before half-time, but their next effort was more effective – and significant.

Danny Rose, lively at left-back, did well to beat two markers on the touchline and play the ball infield.

Pavlyuchenko was 25 yards from goal when he received the ball, looked up and curled a measured shot into the far corner of goal.

Suddenly there was more urgency in Birmingham’s play, and more desperation.

Liam Ridgewell and Craig Gardner followed Barry Ferguson into the referee’s notebook for a couple of ugly challenges as Spurs continued to dominate.

Modric had another long shot saved, Pavlyuchenko shot high and wide, and Defoe had a shot turned away for a corner after a thrilling run from the halfway line.

Alex McLeish was a frustrated figure on the touchline, and even the supporters were chanting “Get into them” as Tottenham passed the ball at leisure, seemingly in complete control.

Then it all changed in the 80th minute. Birmingham won a rare corner, and when the ball rebounded to Gardner from Rose’s block, he fired an unstoppable shot through a crowd of players with his left-foot from 25 yards.

Within minutes the news came though that Wigan and Wolves had both scored goals to lift themselves out of trouble and put Birmingham back in the bottom three.

With time running, out, McLeish urged his men forward for the goal that would have saved them.

Instead, Pavlyuchenko struck the killer blow in stoppage time.

The Russian striker received the ball 25yards from goal and hit a shot that flew up and over Foster, clipping the underside of the bar as it went in.

 


Switch to Snack Football to browse all blogs, videos and new featured content
snack football unit grey closesnack football unit green-tick