Blues fight back for draw
Birmingham came from two goals down to earn a draw against 10-man Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
Last Updated: 14/08/10 5:46pm
Birmingham came from two goals down to earn a deserved draw against 10-man Sunderland in the season opener at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats started brightly and were rewarded in the 24th minute when Stephen Carr conceded a penalty for a foul on Fraizer Campbell that appeared to take place on the edge of the area or perhaps just outside.
Darren Bent stepped up and squeezed his spot-kick past the dive of new Birmingham keeper Ben Foster, to carry on where he left off last season in terms of goalscoring form.
But Sunderland suffered a blow when captain Lee Cattermole was then given his marching orders for a second bookable offence just before half-time.
The home side increased their lead when the unfortunate Carr headed in an own goal on 56 minutes.
But the Blues made their numerical superiority count when Scott Dann headed home Sebastian Larsson's cross on 77 minutes.
And Alex McLeish's side salvaged a point two minutes before the end when Liam Ridgewell slotted home from close range.
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce gave full debuts to keeper Simon Mignolet, defenders Nedum Onuoha and Titus Bramble and winger Ahmed Al-Muhammadi while John Mensah also started after returning to the Stadium of Light on loan from Lyon for a second successive season.
Birmingham's side had a more familiar look about it, although there was a debut in goal for Foster after he overcame a back problem that forced him out of England duty.
The home side had much the better of the opening quarter of an hour without troubling Foster, who was able to watch a Steed Malbranque shot sail past his near post from the best chance.
There was then a break in play while Garry O'Connor received treatment after an accidental elbow from Cattermole caused a nasty cut above the striker's eye. The Scot was bandaged up and was able to continue.
Chances were few and far between but suddenly a break from Bent set Sunderland away.
Referee Anthony Taylor waved play on when Dann looked to have fouled the striker and, as Campbell surged into the area, he was felled by Carr.
Taylor immediately pointed to the spot and, after he had shown Carr a yellow card, Bent stepped up to power the penalty into the bottom corner with 24 minutes gone.
Bent and Campbell were linking up superbly and last season's leading scorer should have grabbed his second five minutes later after a neat backheel from his strike partner sent him into the area but he mis-hit his shot well wide from 10 yards.
Birmingham had yet to muster any kind of effort on goal and they nearly put themselves in even more trouble with 35 minutes on the clock.
Al Muhammadi beat his man but his cross looked set to be dealt with by Bowyer only for the midfielder to slice his clearance at Foster, who did well to keep it out at point-blank range.
Sunderland's day had been going exactly to plan but they found themselves reduced to 10 men a minute before half-time when new captain Cattermole, who had earlier been booked for a foul on Cameron Jerome, clattered Bowyer from behind and was sent off.
Birmingham boss McLeish would have expected much more from his team and he responded by bringing on James McFadden for Keith Fahey.
The visitors looked much brighter at the start of the second half and it needed a great tackle from Mensah to stop Jerome as he headed towards goal.
Sunderland's threat was now sporadic but in the 56th minute they went two up thanks to another nightmare moment for Carr.
Having conceded the penalty in the first half, the veteran right-back stretched to get a head to Jordan Henderson's free-kick under pressure from Campbell only to direct it over his own keeper and into the net.
McLeish made his second change immediately, bringing on 6ft 8in striker Nikola Zigic for his debut in place of O'Connor. And the Serb almost grabbed a goal moments later but his 25-yard drive was well tipped over by Mignolet.
Cristian Riveros then came on for his Sunderland debut but, with 12 minutes to go, Birmingham were back in it thanks to another act of charity.
The visitors worked a short corner and Larsson swung in a cross from the left that was headed down by Dann and right through Mignolet.
The centre-back should then have levelled matters but he somehow failed to connect with Larsson's free-kick from six yards out with the goal gaping.
Danny Welbeck became the sixth Sunderland debutant in place of Bent but the pressure on the hosts was growing and inevitably it was another Larsson set-piece that provided the equaliser two minutes from time.The Swede swung in a ball from the right that found Ridgewell at the far post who slotted in from close range.
|Sunderland||Team Statistics||Birmingham City|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||6|
|6||Shots off Target||6|