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  • Birmingham 2-2 Everton: Gardner great-strike

    Birmingham fought back from two goals down to earn a 2-2 Premier League draw with Everton at St. Andrew's on Saturday 12/03/2010.

    Two goals in the space of three minutes from Victor Anichebe and Yakubu Ayegbeni looked to have set the Toffees on their way to three points, though a quick reply from Cameron Jerome followed by a fine volley from Craig Gardner at the start of the second half gave Birmingham a share of the points and ensured they stay eighth in the table, two points ahead of their opponents in ninth.

    Everton's afternoon was darkened further by injuries to Tim Cahill and Anichebe, both of whom were forced off in a frantic second half.

    After a pedestrian start to the match, Everton began to find gaps in the Birmingham defence, and it required a world class save from Joe Hart to deny a curling Steven Pienaar effort from just outside the area. The England man flung himself across his goal to push Pienaar's shot around the post with the tips of his fingers when the ball looked set to nestle in the back of the net.

    Moments later Hart was called upon again, this time to make a smart stop from Cahill, who glanced Mikel Arteta's inswinging cross goalwards.

    There was nothing the overworked keeper could do on midway through the half, however, when Anichebe fired Everton into the lead. The Nigerian spun athletically past Liam Ridgewell, before firing a rising left-foot shot into the far corner.

    Three minutes later Everton were two up, after Yakubu rose highest at the far post to head home Pienaar's high ball.

    With Birmingham wasteful in possession, Everton appeared in total control proceedings. Or at least they did until Birmingham pulled a goal back from out of the blue with their first real moment of danger on 27 minutes.

    Keith Fahey swung an innocuous-looking ball into the area from the left, and Jerome got just enough of a touch onto the ball to help it in at the far post beyond Tim Howard.

    Everton did threaten once again toward the end of the half through a well-struck free-kick from Leighton Baines, but once again Hart was at his athletic best to fly across his line and tip the ball away.

    Everton had a big appeal for a penalty turned down after Pienaar's shot struck Roger Johnson's hand in the Everton area, and their frustration only deepened two minutes later when Birmingham pulled level.

    Jerome asserted himself well in the air to nod down a long ball from Hart, and Gardner reacted quickest to the second ball before firing a crisp first-time volley into the bottom corner.

    The turnaround worked wonders for Birmingham's confidence, and where their midfield was previously being outfought and outplayed by the visitors, they suddenly started playing with the assurance that has taken them to seventh spot in the table.

    Meanwhile, Everton's normally dangerous deliveries from set-pieces began to fall apart as Baines and Arteta fail to feed their strikers from numerous promising positions.

    When Cahill finally did break through from open play, he fired a tame low shot straight at Hart.

    Johnny Heitinga had chance to make himself a hero as Arteta's corner fell for him in the final minute of injury-time, but he could only glance the ball over the bar.
    Michael FitzGerald / Eurosport



    Birmingham team : Hart, Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell, Gardner, Ferguson, Bowyer, Fahey, Jerome, Benitez.

    Substitutes: Taylor, Larsson, Phillips, McFadden, Michel, Queudrue, Tainio.

    Everton team: Howard, Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Anichebe, Heitinga, Arteta, Pienaar, Cahill, Yakubu.

    Substitutes: Nash, Hibbert, Yobo, Bilyaletdinov, Donovan, Gosling, Rodwell.


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