Stuart Dallas at double to deny pal Kyle Lafferty in Leeds victory over Birmingham
Stuart Dallas came out on top against Northern Ireland team-mate Kyle Lafferty as his classy double got Leeds United back to winning ways with a 2-1 Skybet Championship victory against Birmingham at St Andrew's.
Dallas is sure to be on the plane when his country travel to the Euro 2016 finals this summer and his display will have boosted his chances of earning a spot in Michael O'Neill's starting line-up in France.
The former Crusaders ace made the breakthrough in the 11th minute before increasing Leeds' advantage with a spectacular volley five minutes into the second-half and doubling his goal tally for the season in the process.
Clayton Donaldson gave Birmingham, who signed Lafferty on loan from Norwich until the end of the season last month after interest from Leeds, hope with a close-range striker in the 53rd minute but their rivals held firm to earn their first win in five games - after taking a solitary point from the previous four - and also end a run of back-to-back away defeats.
The only sour note for Leeds came in stoppage time when Alex Mowatt was sent off for his challenge on Ryan Shotton.
Birmingham had gone into the game hoping to keep their slim play-off hopes alive.
But they only got going when they were 2-0 down and remain nine points adrift of the top six with five games remaining.
There were early warnings that Birmingham did not heed and they paid the price for that when Dallas found himself unmarked and in acres of space 20 yards from goal after a pass form the lively Mirco Antenucci.
Dallas did not need a second invitation and let fly with a low drive that whistled past goalkeeper Adam Legzdins and just inside his near post.
When Birmingham did finally threaten to mount an attack of their own it was ended in rather crude fashion by Domenico Berardi who upended David Davis on the left wing in the 32nd minute with a challenge that earned the Swiss full-back a yellow card.
It was a rare moment of attacking intent from Birmingham but Leeds did not have to wait long to double their lead through a stunning strike from Dallas.
He latched on to a header from Chris Wood, flicked the ball up with his left foot and volleyed it home from 20 yards.
Leeds looked to be in cruise control, but Birmingham grabbed a lifeline just three minutes later when David Cotterill's free-kick was palmed out by Marco Silvestri - straight to Donaldson, who bundled in.
Silvestri then came to the rescue of Leeds by beating out Lafferty's powerful 75th-minute drive before denying him again seconds later.
Lafferty then turned provider to tee-up Diego Fabbrini who somehow managed to sky his shot over from seven yards.