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Birmingham City 1-1 Arsenal - Match Report
Published : 27 Mar 2010 17:48:47
Kevin Phillips came to Birmingham City's rescue with a last-minute equaliser which denied Arsenal of a crucial victory, as the St Andrew's clash ended level at 1-1
It was a fitting contribution from the veteran striker who only appeared for the last six minutes of the game, but still managed to record the 250th goal of his career.
As a result of Phillips goal Arsenal followed in the footsteps of Manchester United and Chelsea in their failure to win at St. Andrew's.
They appeared to be heading for their seventh successive win following an 80th minute strike by Samir Nasri.
But Phillips popped up with his vital equaliser to enable Birmingham to extend their unbeaten home run to 12 games to equal their best record set up in 1973-74.
It was the first return of Eduardo to St Andrew's since his career threatening broken leg he sustained two years ago in an accident with Birmingham's Martin Taylor. But he only began on the substitutes bench.
The culture and skill of the Arsenal side was clearly evident. Abou Diaby was always prominent, while Cesc Fabregas stamped his mark on the proceedings in the early stages only to tail off as the game progressed.
Birmingham's endeavour kept them in the game with James McFadden demonstrating his potential danger with a low drive which went just wide.
A mistake by Liam Ridgewell let in Theo Walcott but Joe Hart bravely foiled the young Arsenal player on the edge of the area.
Increasing Arsenal pressure resulted in some stalwart defensive work by Roger Johnson to keep the Gunners at bay.
Like other opposition Arsenal discovered why Birmingham are defensively so strong at home.
Alex Song and Gael Clichy were booked to the annoyance of manager Arsene Wenger, who visibly made known his feelings to the officials.
Birmingham gained in confidence as demonstrated by Cameron Jerome firing in a shot which Manuel Almunia had to scramble across his goal to save.
Jerome's pace was a problem for the Gunners and he broke through again only to see Almunia make another scrambling move to his right to keep out the striker's effort.
Off the field tempers were became a little frayed on both benches with the two managers exchanging their views.
The Gunners stepped up a gear at the start of the second half but Birmingham continued to battle in a determined fashion.
Diaby, who often caught the eye, moved forward to threaten when he turned and shot from the edge of the area straight at Hart.
There was an incredible miss in the 62nd minute. Roger Johnson hit the far post following a Craig Gardner pass only to see his defensive colleague Scott Dann amazingly nudge the ball over the bar from only a couple of yards from the rebound.
Substitute Nasri wasted Arsenal's best scoring opportunity with a weak effort easily saved by Hart.
Nasri made no mistake in the 80th minute when he collected a pass, advanced unchecked and rifled in a low shot past the diving Hart.
But no team can underestimate the finishing skill of Phillips and he popped up with his face-saver from a Gardner pass.