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  • Birmingham City 2-1 Burnley: Benitez, Thompson scored

    Birmingham City piled more misery on relegated Burnley with a 2-1 win in the final Premier League game of the season at St Andrews, making it the worst away record in the division's history for the Clarets.

    An own-goal from Brian Jensen and a close-range finish for Christian Benitez - both in the first half - condemned Brian Laws’s side to a record 17th Premier League loss.

    Second-half substitute Steven Thompson pulled one back late on but it was too little too late as his team slumped to a 11th defeat in 13 matches after the former Sheffield Wednesday boss took charge.

    Birmingham had their own interesting statistic to claim from the game - they have now won 13 league games this season, each by a single-goal margin.

    Victory was the least Birmingham deserved as they head for a top-half finish as, while possession was evenly matched, they controlled much of the game against a toothless and frankly soft Clarets side.

    For all their neat passing Burnley lacked a cutting edge and - crucially - the basic ability to defend as a unit.

    With Birmingham adopting their now-familiar counter-attacking routine, Lee Bowyer should have opened the scoring in the second minute but somehow headed wide from Cameron Jerome’s superb left-wing cross.

    Burnley had a penalty appeal waved away four minutes later when James McFadden appeared to push Tyrone Mears, while two minutes after that Benitez was sent clean through by Jerome only to be foiled by Jensen.

    Jerome’s movement was giving the Clarets back four all kinds of problems and he missed a gilt-edged chance of his own on 18 minutes, heading over from close range after McFadden found him from the right.

    One minute later Jensen pulled off a remarkable stop from Jerome’s low finish after Benitez gave Leon Cort the run-around and Steven Caldwell failed to track the former Cardiff striker.

    Laws’s side did have their half chances but, unlike at their end, Blues keeper Joe Hart was rarely tested as Liam Ridgewell, Roger Johnson, Gregory Vignal and Stuart Parnaby all got vital blocks in.

    Their resilience paid off and, just before the half-hour mark they took the lead when Sebastian Larsson’s cross left the visiting defence floundering, with the ball ricocheting off Mears and then the unfortunate Jensen for an own-goal that was, adding insult to injury, assisted by a Burnley player.

    It was 2-0 four minutes before the break after some defending unworthy of the Premier League allowed an unmarked Johnson to head McFadden’s right-wing free-kick across goal and in off Benitez’s chest, with not a Burnley player in sight of the goal-line.

    Birmingham could have been forgiven for easing off slightly but they did not turn up for the first five minutes of the second half, with Steven Fletcher twice given a free run and shot on goal, firing just wide the first time and forcing a smart save from Hart the second.

    Alex McLeish had words and the hosts brightened up, Jerome denied by Cort’s challenge when he appeared to be clean through before cutting inside on to his favoured right, while Benitez dragged a shot wide.

    Larsson went close with an audacious volley from Benitez’s clever cross as the Blues chased a third, while Benitez was let down by a poor first touch when a long punt sent him clean through, and his finish blocked by Cort.

    Birmingham eased off again for the latter stages but Burnley’s poor final ball was repeatedly exposed, with Mears guilty of one of the worst crosses of the season, hitting row Z when put clear on the right.

    They did pull one back though when Blues left-back Vignal - in for Scott Dann with Ridgewell shifted inside - failed to step up and played Thompson onside, allowing the Scotsman time to pick his spot low to Hart’s left.

    That aberration aside the Blues were still comfortable as they played out the last seven minutes of their home campaign to edge closer to a best-ever finish in their first season back in the top flight.
    Reda Maher / Eurosport

    Team Line-up:

    Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Cort, Caldwell, Fox, Cork, Alexander, Nugent, Steven Fletcher, Paterson, Elliott. Subs: Weaver, Duff, MacDonald, Rodriguez, Blake, Bikey, Thompson

    Birmingham: Hart, Parnaby, Johnson, Ridgewell, Vignal, Larsson, Bowyer, Ferguson, McFadden, Jerome, Benitez. Subs: Taylor, Murphy, Michel, Fahey, Carsley, Tainio, Redmond


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