Belfast Telegraph

Gardner double sees off Rovers

Craig Gardner struck twice and Ben Foster boosted his England credentials with a brilliant display of goalkeeping as Birmingham came from behind to beat Blackburn 2-1 at St Andrew's.

After a dire first half, Morten-Gamst Pedersen was given a golden chance to open the scoring in the 50th minute when Nikola Zigic fouled Christopher Samba in the box but Foster pulled off a superb save.

Four minutes later the visitors were ahead as Steven Nzonzi headed in a corner but Gardner turned the game around, converting a brilliant James McFadden pass in the 57th minute and then beating Paul Robinson from 30 yards for the winner with 19 minutes left.

The best chance of the opening 45 minutes came after Sebastian Larsson saw his shot deflected behind for a corner which he delivered and Scott Dann's header was saved by Robinson.

It needed good defending from Michel Salgado to prevent Zigic claiming his first Birmingham goal in the opening moments of the second half after Gardner crossed to the back post.

Referee Michael Oliver spotted Zigic pulling Samba's shirt as Pedersen curled in a corner and awarded a penalty. The Norwegian struck it well but Foster reacted superbly with a fingertip save onto the angle of post and bar.

Foster produced another good save to tip over Nzonzi's header from Pedersen's long throw but from the corner the Frenchman found space at the near post and glanced a header into the net.

The lead lasted only three minutes when a long ball from Stephen Carr found McFadden in the area and his superb volleyed pass left Gardner with a simple tap-in.

Foster pulled off another good save to keep out Nikola Kalinic's low shot and Samba headed against the post.

In the 71st minute Birmingham took the lead out of nothing when Gardner let fly from 30 yards and found the bottom corner.


From Belfast Telegraph