It’s that kind of season, isn’t it? Just when things are going to plan, you’re hit with the unexpected and it’s suddenly too late too react. This was the case tonight for Manchester United as they shared the spoils in a, dare I say it, boring encounter prior to the latter stages of the game. The game typified United’s season so far as their away form hasn’t been the best, winning only 1 on the road so far this season. A stubborn Birmingham side proved tough to break down and when Dimitar Berbatov scored to bring his tally to 14 in the league, it was United who would seem to prevail. St. Andrew’s has become a bit of a fortress for Birmingham with only 1 loss in 15 prior to this match and with this result, they now extend it to 16.
The first half was lacklustre compared to United against Sunderland. Birmingham’s well organised defence shielded United from building up any potential leads. Birmingham had the better of the early exchanges with Cameron Jerome going close. United started to build up possession and when Rooney dragged wide things were starting to look better for the Red Devils. Rooney was also involved in another typical United move as Berbatov fed Rooney who then shot rather tamely at former United keeper Ben Foster.
The best moment came on the 22nd minute mark as a Ryan Giggs cross was expertly dealt with by Ben Foster, tipping it on the post as United started to take control. Between then and the end of the half chances were limited and there wasn’t much action with Birmingham defending resolutely.
The second half was far more livelier and in the 58th minute Manchester United took the lead. Ryan Giggs picked up the ball in midfield and passed it to Berbatov who quickly laid off to Darron Gibson who then travelled a metre or two before returning the favour to Berbatov, who beat Foster at his near post. Foster would have been disappointed to concede against his old club, especially in such a manner as he probably should have saved Berbatov’s shot.
Two minutes later United were at it again and it was Berbatov who was again involved, shuffling the ball superbly and striking the frame as the post as the resilient Birmingham defence started to wobble.
Alex McLeish introduced former Arsenal ace Alexander Hleb on for Sebastian Larsonn as Birmingham searched desperately for an equaliser. But it was United who showed more promise, with Vidic forcing a smart save from Foster.
The last ten minutes were nervy for United as their defence hasn’t been at their absolute best this campiagn and with the introduction of Nickola Zigic, Birmingham drew level.
A cross was delivered to the far post by Roger Johnson, handled by Zigic over to Lee Bowyer, who then slid in to draw level. It was no more than what the hosts deserved, from their imperious defencive duties.
Manchester United: Edwin van Der Sar, Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Darron Gibson, Anderson, Carrick, Giggs, Rooney, Berbatov Subs: Kuszczak, Gary Neville, Javier Hernandez, Frederico Macheda, Gabriel Obertan, Darren Fletcher, Jonny Evans
Birmingham: Ben Foster, Stephen Carr, Roger Johnson, Scott Dann, Liam Ridgewell, Sebastien Larsonn, Barry Ferguson, Craig Gardener, Lee Bowyer, Jean Beausjour, Cameron Jerome Subs: Maik Taylor, Kevin Phillips, Matt Derbyshire, Keith Fahey, Nicolas Zigic, Alexandre Hleb, Martin Jiranek