Birmingham 0 Newcastle 2: Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best on target to sink Blues

16 February 2011 08:13

  The popular theory that Alan Pardew does not have any decent strikers was rebuffed at St Andrew's.

Newcastle may still be mourning the loss of Andy Carroll after his ?35million move to Liverpool, but where one door closes, another opens.

Peter Lovenkrands found the netinside two minutes with an exquisite half-volley to set the away sideon their way.And a header from Leon Best just five minutes after there-start when Birmingham had hit back ferociously, strangled any hopesof a home comeback.

Singing in the rain: Peter Lovenkrands (second right) pounces to give Newcastle an early lead

Alex McLeish's side have fallenbehind plenty of times this season and their resilience has served themwell. But Newcastle closed down this game expertly, leaving Pardew tosing the praises of his forwards.

'We have two strikers,' said theNewcastle boss. 'One (Lovenkrands) has a thigh strain and is playingthrough it. The other (Best) was substituted because he couldn't moveany more. The pressure was on those two. For them to score from freeplay today was the biggest plus for me.

High riser: Leon Best (right) outjumps Roger Johnson to double Newcastle's advantage

'Neither of them is Shola Ameobi (who is out injured) and nor are they Andy Carroll. But we got the best out of them both.'

Newcastle withstood a fierce barragetowards the end of the opening period and Best's goal knocked thestuffing out of a near-capacity home crowd.

Despite back-to-back wins over West Ham and Stoke, the Carling Cup finalists remain just three points above the relegation zone.

Up for the battle: Zigic collides with Newcastle keeper Harper

MATCH STATS Birmingham (4-4-2): Foster 6; Carr 7, Johnson 6, Jiranek 6 (Murphy 73min, 6), Ridgewell 5; Larsson 6 (Phillips 75, 6), B Ferguson 6, Gardner 6, Bentley 7; Zigic 6, Martins 6 (Jerome 58, 5). Subs not used: Doyle, Bowyer, Fahey, Beausejour. Booked: Murphy.

Newcastle (4-4-2): Harper 7; Simpson 6, Coloccini 7, Williamson 7, Enrique 8; Barton 7, Tiote 7, Nolan 7, Gutierrez 8 (Campbell 85); Lovenkrands 7 (Ranger 64, 6), Best 7 (Guthrie,75, 6). Subs not used: Krul, Perch, S Ferguson, Kuqi. Booked: Nolan, Barton, Ranger.

Man of the match: Jose Enrique. Referee: Lee Mason 6.

McLeish said: 'We've had afantastic month in terms of results bar what happened at ManchesterUnited. There have been some performances that have been inspirationaland heroic. But we looked a bit flat.'

Pardew himself conceded that theearly strike laid the platform for Newcastle's first victory sinceCarroll left for Merseyside.

It was a powerful run by JoseEnrique that unsettled Birmingham. He held off Seb Larsson and althoughhis initial cross from the left saw Roger Johnson block Kevin Nolan'sfirst effort, there was to be no second reprieve.

The ball came back out to JonasGutierrez and the winger picked out Lovenkrands. The Dane's left-footedshot was of the highest quality. It arrived on the half-volley and flewpast Ben Foster into the bottom corner.

Then came Birmingham' s response.Larsson swung over a free-kick but Johnson's header was a yard wide.Soon after, Barry Ferguson's first-time pass found Nikola Zigic and theSerb's shot forced visiting keeper Steve Harper into a fine save.

But the barrage ended just beforethe break when Larsson teed up Gardner whose shot flew high and widefrom the edge of the area.

Simply the Best: the Newcastle striker celebrates after scoring his side's second

After the interval McLeish's sidefailed to pick up where they left off. And when Joey Barton threaded apass out to Gutierrez on the left Birmingham were again caught cold.The Argentine twisted inside and out and Larsson was again nowhere nearstopping the cross to the far post. Best hung back well and with a runat the ball was able to rise above the home team's central defenders,nodding past Foster.

Johnson went close a couple of times but by the final whistle, Birmingham had run out of ideas.

'This victory makes our last drawsfabulous results now,' added Pardew. 'Coming back from four-downagainst Arsenal, a clean sheet and a point at Blackburn and animportant win tonight. 'We defended well. Birmingham are superb atworking positions for angled balls into the box but we withstood thatand passed it well. It was a complete away performance.'

 Pardew's cool on Enrique impasse despite Villa and Liverpool interestIt's a big ask! Williamson up against towering striker Zigic at BirminghamAll the latest Birmingham City news, features and opinionAll the latest Newcastle United news, features and opinion  Explore more:People: Leon Best, Andy Carroll, Barry Ferguson, Roger Johnson, Ben Foster, Alex McLeish, Joey Barton Places: Birmingham, Newcastle, Liverpool

Source: Daily_Mail