Derby 0-3 Birmingham: Blues dent Rams' hopes
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 16/01/16 6:31pm
Derby's hopes of automatic promotion suffered a serious blow when they were beaten 3-0 by Birmingham at the iPro Stadium.
Another poor display by the Sky Bet Championship big spenders was punished by the impressive visitors who scored three times in the second half.
Paul Robinson, Stephen Gleeson and Maikel Kieftenbeld were on all on the scoresheet in just over 10 minutes to leave Derby without a league win in 2016.
Derby head coach Paul Clement had slammed the midweek performance against Reading as "awful" but his team were no better and made little impression on a Birmingham side set up to frustrate them.
Although Derby had plenty of the ball, they did little with it until the 30th minute when a good move down the left ended with a Stephen Warnock cross which Jeff Hendrick headed wide from eight yards.
George Thorne was only just off target with a 20-yard shot that flashed past Tomasz Kuszczak's right hand post in the 39th minute and Birmingham had their first effort on goal four minutes later but Jon Toral's effort from the edge of the area lacked the power to trouble Lee Grant.
Hendrick had a 20-yard shot comfortably saved but it had been another disappointing half for the home fans, although Birmingham had stuck to their game plan and they started the second half by forcing a corner in the first two minutes.
Jacques Maghoma had a good opening but hesitated before firing in a low shot Grant dealt with easily. The winger then had another effort charged down after a patient passing move by the visitors.
Derby had a couple of promising breaks that came to nothing before Toral got into another good position just outside the area but again failed to test Grant.
The Derby 'keeper had to be at his best in the 58th minute when a break down the right ended with Clayton Donaldson teeing up Toral, whose shot from the edge of the box was heading for the top corner until Grant touched it over.
But it was only a temporary reprieve because from the corner, Michael Morrison flicked it on for Robinson to head in from four yards.
An increasingly frustrated looking Clement made a triple substitution in the 67th minute but Birmingham increased their lead seven minutes later through a superb strike from Gleeson.
David Davis played the ball back to Gleeson outside the area and as Grant anticipated a cross, he chipped the ball over the 'keeper and under the bar.
As Birmingham celebrated, it appeared something was thrown from the Derby fans behind the goal and it got even worse for the home side when the visitors scored again 10 minutes from time.
A cross from the right was only headed out as far as Kieftenbeld, who sent a 20-yard volley flying past Grant to complete a memorable day for Birmingham and another miserable one for Derby.