Larsson strike stuns Spurs
Sebastian Larsson scored a stunning winner at White Hart Lane as Birmingham beat Tottenham 3-2.
Last Updated: 02/12/07 7:30pm
Sebastian Larsson ensured Alex McLeish began life as Birmingham's manager in the most dramatic of circumstances, as his stunning strike secured a 3-2 victory over ten-man Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
In what was a fine advert for the Premier League, the midfielder - a former Arsenal player - silenced the Spurs faithful in injury time with a drive from 30-yards that flew into the top corner.
The game ebbed and flowed throughout as Birmingham, having survived an early onslaught, opened the scoring courtesy of a Gary McSheffrey penalty after Younes Kaboul was adjudged to have fouled the Scot.
Spurs needed just five minutes of the second half to draw level, through another penalty, as Robbie Keane dispatched after Johan Djourou brought down Dimitar Berbatov.
Keane then gave his side the lead with a stabbed finish from substitute Tom Huddlestone's fine clipped pass, before Cameron Jerome rode two lethargic Spurs tackles to level the game at 2-2.
Referee Phil Dowd adjudged Keane to have gone over the top on Fabrice Muamba in showing him a straight red card, as Spurs' woes were exacerbated when Larsson struck a winner that will live long in the memory.
Darren Bent started in an advanced position alongside Berbatov with Keane lying deeper, but despite the impressive strike force on show the early danger came in Spurs territory.
Jerome floated a pass dangerously across the face of goal but Muamba could not reach the ball.
A poorly struck shot from Berbatov flew into the arms of keeper Maik Taylor, recalled by McLeish, and moments later Birmingham were saved by poor finishing from Keane.
Brilliant interplay between Bent and Keane - started by Kaboul's long ball - saw the Republic of Ireland skipper jink into the area only to sky his shot from close range with just Taylor to beat.
Tenacious work from Aaron Lennon, completed by a cheeky backheal, set up Keane but he picked out Berbatov near the far post and the Bulgarian nodded over.
Spurs kept up the pressure with Taylor doing well to keep out Bent, but his save ricocheted on to the leg of an unwitting Liam Ridgewell who nearly put the ball into his own net.
Birmingham then surged ahead against the run of play through McSheffrey - with Kaboul helping them into the lead.
Larsson and McSheffrey combined to send the Blues forward charging down the left of the box where he was clipped by Kaboul and he made no mistake from the spot.
Normal service resumed after the Blues had taken the lead with Spurs back on the offensive.
Keane was pulling the strings beautifully behind the front two, releasing Lennon whose bullet pass was cleared by Larsson in the nick of time.
A perfectly placed 37th minute free-kick by Gareth Bale was heading straight for the top right corner but Taylor produced a superb stop.
Juande Ramos hauled off Kaboul and Bent at half-time, replacing them with Tom Huddlestone and Jermain Defoe, and four minutes after the break they equalised.
Didier Zokora sent Berbatov racing through and, in a echo of Kaboul's challenge, Djourou tripped the Spurs forward who went tumbling.
Keane rifled home the spot-kick for his 12th goal of the season and just three minutes later the club captain put Spurs ahead.
A corner was cleared as far as Huddlestone and the midfielder saw Keane's run, finding him with a lofted ball that was prodded into the net.
But Birmingham leveled through Jerome in the 62nd minute, the England Under-21 striker weaved through midfield by weak tackles from Michael Dawson and Zokora before finishing neatly.
Berbatov was cleared off the line by Ridgewell and Spurs were dealt another hammer blow in the 68th minute when Keane was given his marching orders.
A diving one-legged lunge on Muamba resulted in a straight red card from referee Dowd.
Defoe looked lively in the final 20 minutes but Spurs, a man down, found themselves stretched as Mikael Forssell hit the crossbar from point blank range.
Paul Robinson made a smart save from Olivier Kapo but then the Blues struck, Larsson breaking Spurs' hearts to register his side's first win at White Hart Lane for 24 years.
|Tottenham Hotspur||Team Statistics||Birmingham City|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|7||Shots on Target||4|
|8||Shots off Target||4|