Birmingham 0-3 Derby: Gary Rowett haunts Blues again
Last Updated: 13/01/18 7:18pm
Gary Rowett returned to haunt Birmingham again as his Derby side stayed second in the Sky Bet Championship with a 3-0 win at St Andrew's.
Sacked as Birmingham manager 13 months ago and replaced by Gianfranco Zola, Rowett has moved on to build a team at Derby who have promotion to the Premier League in their sights.
Goals from Johnny Russell, Matej Vydra and Andreas Weimann did the business as the Rams showed the clinical form that has helped them mount a challenge near the top.
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Rowett also guided Derby to victory at Birmingham last April. This latest result means current Blues boss Steve Cotterill has not beaten Derby in 13 games as a manager. Early impressions were a little misleading, with Derby producing some promising attacks but Birmingham the more positive team.
As early as the fourth minute Birmingham defender Jonathan Grounds took advantage of a deflection to fire in a bobbling shot which bounced against the post and back into play.
Jeremie Boga then made a clever run, cutting in before pushing a cross into the path of Sam Gallagher who attempted to tee up the ball instead of taking a first-time shot from close range.
The Rams survived the initial onslaught and settled down to take a 19th-minute lead. A long pass from Richard Keogh down the right was collected by Russell. He jinked his way inside and produced what appeared to be a hopeful cross which evaded everyone to creep into the net and give the Rams a shock lead, to the obvious delight of their travelling fans.
A brilliant save by Scott Carson to keep out a 30-yard strike from Craig Gardner kept Derby ahead in what was a keen tussle. Gardner, as usual, was Birmingham's driving force and Derby were given no respite, illustrated when Curtis Davies resorted to a late tackle on Maikel Kieftenbeld which resulted in the defender being shown a yellow card.
Derby, however, continued to be dangerous on the break. Their more open play created openings with Vydra clipping the bar with a cross-shot.
The visitors effectively killed the contest with their second goal in the 56th minute. The unmarked Vydra collected a long ball from defence to race through unchallenged to lash a left-footed shot past David Stockdale.
Four minutes from time substitute Weimann sealed Birmingham's fate with a simple tap-in.
Steve Cotterill: "I thought we started the game really well and scored twice and then they score against the run of play. They are a counter-attacking team with a lethal four players up front at this level. Their first goal was a deflection and against the run of play, while we should not have conceded a second because it was poor defending.
"We need three new midfield players to strengthen the side, while our front three were not as good as they have been for the last few weeks. Derby are a very experienced team with some very good players in their squad. It was frustrating but it is part of the job. We have to manage the situation."
Gary Rowett: "What pleased me were the three goals, which were all different. When Johnny Russell scored the first it settled down the team.
"The one thing I cannot say about us is we can cope with the different styles of play. When we play and get the ball down we have enough ability to exploit spaces, as we demonstrated."