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Derby County vs Birmingham City. Sky Bet Championship.

Pride Park StadiumAttendance32,616.

Derby County 1

  • D Bent (64th minute pen)

Birmingham City 0

    Derby 1-0 Birmingham: Bent penalty moves Rams to within point of playoffs

    Highlights of Derby's 1-0 win over Birmingham from the Sky Bet Championship

    Darren Bent scored the winner from the spot as Derby beat Birmingham 1-0 to move within a point of the Sky Bet Championship play-off places.

    The Blues kept their hosts at arm's length for long periods but experience played a part as Richard Keogh went down under the grip of Michael Morrison and former Aston Villa frontman Bent swept home the penalty in the 64th minute, celebrating in front of the fans of his former rivals.

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    It is a sixth victory in seven games for the Rams and a seventh consecutive home clean sheet - a club record - but a second straight loss for new Blues boss Gianfranco Zola.

    Darren Bent celebrates with his Derby team-mates after putting them ahead in the match against Brimingham
    Image: Derby celebrate Darren Bent's goal

    From the first whistle, it looked like it would be a game of few opportunities, Derby recording half-chances from Johnny Russell and Bent but Birmingham creating little of note.

    Derby pressed the Birmingham backline early on, coercing their opponents into minor mistakes, but were forced to rethink their plans when Martin Olsson pulled up after five minutes, clutching his hamstring.

    Bradley Johnson was man-of-the-match as Derby beat Birmingham thanks to a penalty from Darren Bent

    His replacement was the returning Ikechi Anya and from the moment he was introduced, it looked clear he was to be the driving outlet on the left.

    Russell was the force behind the first real chance of the first 45 minutes, though, swinging in a cross that Bent flicked just past the post.

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    Darren Bent converts his penalty to give Derby a 1-0 lead against Birmingham
    Image: Darren Bent converts his penalty to give Derby a 1-0 lead against Birmingham

    What proved to be Birmingham's best opportunity of the game came after 25 minutes when Chris Baird sent a wayward lofted pass-back in the direction of Scott Carson, who just managed to head the ball away from the advancing Blues frontman, Lukas Jutkiewicz.

    Russell was again involved just after the half hour when his cross was pushed away by Tomasz Kuszczak, but for all the Derby pressure, Birmingham always looked like they might hit them on the counter.

    Steve McClaren believes his Derby side were good value for their victory over Birmingham

    At the break, the two sides were level but Kuszczak was again the hero nine minutes into the second half; Bent tracked Shotton's headed pass-back, reached it before the stopper and flicked towards goal. The Pole rushed out with flailing arms and heroically blocked the shot.

    Only minutes after the hour mark, however, his heroics were forgotten when Derby took the lead from the spot.

    Johnny Russell and Jaques Maghoma vie for possession at the iPro Stadium
    Image: Johnny Russell and Jacques Maghoma vie for possession at the iPro Stadium

    Defending a corner Morrison tussled with Keogh, who gestured to the referee and Bent duly stepped up to stroke home his fourth of the season.

    Substitute Diego Fabbrini was bullied off the ball by Baird as he tried to convert Che Adams' blocked shot but that was as good as it got.

    Birmingham manager Gianfranco Zola believes the decision to award Derby a penalty was poor and claims a draw would have been a fair result

    Birmingham's play-off push is slowing down after two straight defeats under Zola, while Derby earned a priceless three points in their search for a top-six place.

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