Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Blues boost survival hopes

Kevin Phillips
Kevin Phillips

Birmingham moved out of the Premier League relegation zone with a 2-1 home victory over Bolton.

Kevin Phillips made the most of being handed his first league start of the season by opening the scoring in the fourth minute, meeting Sebastian Larsson's corner and unleashing an effort that Jussi Jaaskelainen could not stop.

Craig Gardner made it 2-0 just before the hour mark with a shot in off the post and although Johan Elmander's reply set up a tense finale, Blues held on for three precious points..

Birmingham took an early lead when Gardner won a corner with a deflected shot and Larsson's delivery skimmed over the head of Roger Johnson before falling to Phillips, who rifled the ball in off Jaaskelainen.

Elmander had a chance on the turn which he was unable to get much power on, Ben Foster collecting the ball. Daniel Sturridge then blasted off target for the visitors.

Birmingham midfielder Lee Bowyer volleyed over in the 25th minute and then Gardner struck wide from distance. Sturridge made weak contact with a header and then fired in a far more potent effort from the edge of the box which Foster blocked.

The hosts had a great chance to make it 2-0 but Cameron Jerome shot wide of goal. Sturridge brought two more saves out of Foster and Birmingham thought they had doubled their advantage three minutes after the restart but were denied but Larsson was given offside.

From a corner Jerome set up Johnson whose attempt was pushed around the post in fine style by Jaaskelainen.

But the hosts had a second goal as Gardner played a delightful one-two with Jerome before slamming the ball beyond Jaaskelainen and in off the post.

Bolton skipper Kevin Davies chested the ball down for Elmander to power into the net and get Bolton back into the game. Foster saved from Davies and Gretar Steinsson before Sturridge could not reach Gary Cahill's header as the home side clung on.

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