Nacional 0 Birmingham 0: Blues left to rue missed chances

19 August 2011 12:40
Chris Hughton led Birmingham City back into a major European competition for the first time in 50 years, but did so without a shred of good fortune on the sunshine isle of Madeira.

Stalemate: Birmingham were left frustrated in Portugal after enjoying the better chances

MATCH FACTSBirmingham (4-1-4-1): Myhill 6; Carr 6, Caldwell 5, Davies 8, Murphy 6; Ridgewell 5; Burke 6, Beausejour 5, Spector 6, Redmond 5; Wood 8. Subs not used: Doyle, Rooney, Fahey, Valles, Asante, Jervis, Hubbins.

Booked: Ridgewell, Beausejour, Carr.

Man of the match: Curtis Davies.

Referee: Milorad Mazic (Ser).

The club's new boss watched in frustration as his makeshift team made most of the running against theirPortuguese hosts only to suffer in front of goal. Birmingham hit the woodwork three times during a match in which they were expected to struggle, so at least they can take some heart  ahead of next week's second leg.

Striker Chris Wood, on loan from WestBromwich, thumped a shot and header against the crossbar and upright, and Steven Caldwell did likewise as Birmingham came within a whisker of grabbing a vital away goal.

It was a heartening performance by the npower Championship side, who gave a full debut to Jonathan Spector following his capture on a Bosman signing this month.

Hughton said: 'I'm very happy. Nacional were strong going forward and that made us work a lot, but the better goalscoring chances belonged to us and we could have won here.'

Portuguese hosts Nacional started thebetter of the two sides and a great challenge by Curtis Davies early ondenied Mateus da Costa what might have been the opening goal.

Chris can cross: Burke was a constant thorn but couldn't help make the breakthrough

However, Birmingham eased their way back into the contest and they could consider themselves unlucky not to have held a half-time advantage.

Davies brought a save out of home goalkeeper Elisson before Caldwell and Wood both struck the goalframe.

At a stretch: Curtis Davies kept up his side of the bargain with some fine defending to shut out the hosts

Caldwell was the first man to be denied in the 24th minute when his far-post header from Jean Beausejour's corner hit the inside of the post.

Wood was also left cursing his luck a minute before the break when he hit the crossbar following a Beausejour free-kick.

Huff and puff: Rarely did either side string together a succession of passes to make an opening

The visitors carried that momentum into the second half and, inside two minutes of the restart, they hit the post yet again.

Redmond's drive from outside the box was parried by Elisson but Chris Burke picked up possession and his cross was headed onto the upright by Wood.

Scream if you wanna go closer: Chris Hughton couldn't believe his side's misfortune

Wood then fired an effort across the face of goal before Nacional tried their luck with efforts from Mateus and Diego Barcelos, although neither troubled Boaz Myhill.

Birmingham came close to snatching a late winner when Caldwell got on the end of Beausejour's free-kick but his header went over as the game finished goalless.

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Source: Daily_Mail