Birmingham 0-2 Burton: Gianfranco Zola resigns after defeat
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 17/04/17 7:27pm
Gianfranco Zola's miserable reign as Birmingham boss came to an end after the Blues slumped into the bottom five of the Sky Bet Championship following a home defeat to Burton.
Zola resigned immediately after the 2-0 loss at St Andrew's which saw Birmingham fall to within three points of the drop zone, while opponents Burton eased their own relegation fears.
The visitors completed the season double over Birmingham thanks to goals in either half from Lloyd Dyer and Lucas Akins. Burton's second goal prompted an immediate chant of "we want Zola out" from the disgruntled home fans, and they got their wish soon after full-time with the Italian handing in his notice.
Birmingham had picked up just four points from a possible 27 under the Italian and Monday's display was another poor, disjointed and dejected performance from a demoralised Blues side who slipped ever closer to relegation.
It could have been different, though, if home striker Lukas Jutkiewicz had not missed an open goal in only the fourth minute. Burton goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin came racing out in an attempt to punch the ball clear only to fail in his objective. The ball fell to Jutkiewicz who, with the goal at his mercy, screwed his shot wide.
The visitors, making their first ever visit to St Andrew's, responded with a chance of their own and it was only a timely intervention by Ryan Shotton which prevented Dyer hitting the target.
Burton lost McLaughlin in the 29th minute when he was injured after David Davis fell on top of him, with Stephen Bywater taking his place. That injury was a setback for the Brewers but within seven minutes they were celebrating after capitalising on some poor play in midfield to break through and score.
Goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak bravely blocked Luke Varney's shot only for the much-travelled Dyer - who had a loan spell with Birmingham two years ago - to convert the rebound from close range.
To add injury to insult Kuszczak picked up a knock in that incident and failed to reappear for the second half. His spot was taken by Adam Legzdins, who had only been on the pitch for seven minutes when Burton made it 2-0.
The visitors dominated play at the start of the second half and were rewarded when, following a corner on the right, Akins scored on the turn from inside the six-yard box.
That prompted the Birmingham fans to vent their anger, but the result could have been even more chastening in the end as Varney hit the post late on for Burton, who claimed their first win in four matches.
For Birmingham, the result leaves them worryingly close to the bottom three and with only three matches for Zola's replacement to turn things round - starting with Sunday's trip to Aston Villa.
Gianfranco Zola, who resigned as Birmingham boss after the match:
"I sacked myself. I decided to give in my resignation. I am sorry because I came to Birmingham with huge expectations. Unfortunately the results have not been good and I take full responsibility.
"It is not that I like quitting, but Birmingham deserves better. If I feel I cannot help the players, why stay? If I cannot help the team, it is better I leave and let someone else do that.
"I feel very bad and very sorry. We worked with a lot of meaning, but unfortunately it didn't produce the results. It is all very disappointing."
Burton boss Nigel Clough:
"It was a wonderful away performance in our situation after losing (2-1 at home to Ipswich) on Friday. There was a lot of pressure. We knew we required a result and the way we went about it was full of character and honesty, which the players have in abundance.
"We were nervous going into the game and it was so important getting the first goal. We scored at good times near the end of the second and early in the second period.
"We said that we didn't want to sit back as we wanted to be a danger on the break. I thought the back three - John Brayford, Ben Turner and Kyle McFadden - were outstanding."