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вторник, 24 февраля 2009 г.

NEWCASTLE were left stunned when Stern John's stoppage-time leveller gave Birmingham a richly-deserved point.

The Toon had stormed into a first-half lead through Gary Speed.
But the home side hit back at the death after dominating the second half.
It was a bitter blow for the Geordies, who still harbour strong hopes of booking a place in the Champions League.
Clearly, though, Bobby Robson's side have to take heed of this warning: they must close out a game if they are to grasp the Holy Grail of a top-four spot.
Things looked so bright when Newcastle took lead with a superb goal eight minutes before the interval.
Midfielder Speed powered a 35-yard drive just inside the near post with Blues keeper Maik Taylor well beaten.
Chances went begging and, as play went beyond 90 minutes, Birmingham's chance seemed to have gone.
But in the second minute of added time, central defender Kenny Cunningham floated in a deep free-kick and supersub John dived in at the far post to stab the ball over the line.
Birmingham's delight was in contrast to the disappointment of Newcastle, who have now drawn five Premiership away games in succession.
Magpies boss Robson admitted: "Overall, it was right for Birmingham to get something out of the game.
"They came out in the second half with all guns firing.
"But we had the game won — we only needed to see out the last free-kick."
Robson was far more satisfied with Speed's effort.
The gaffer added: "It was a picture goal — Gary took a pot-shot but it was beautifully struck and it went in like a flash."
Brum boss Steve Bruce insisted: "We deserved something out of the game — we had chances before our goal and we were well worth our point.
"I am delighted for Stern John — he was disappointed he didn't make the starting line-up.
"But it was great for Stern to come off the bench and score. We were just waiting for someone to score a goal for us."
Birmingham, chasing their first double of the season, produced most of the danger following an early flurry from the visitors.
Taylor had to be at his most alert after just five minutes, when blocking a 30-yard free-kick from Laurent Robert that steamed through the defensive wall.
As Birmingham hit back, Clinton Morrison linked up with Robbie Savage to head for goal.
But Toon keeper Shay Given, making his 144th consecutive appearance, dashed off his line to grab the ball at the striker's feet.
Brum hitman Mikael Forssell had a 20-yard effort blocked by central defender Andy O'Brien before Robbie Savage sent an angled shot wide of the near post.
Newcastle took the lead after a foul by Olivier Bernard. The free-kick was hoofed clear. Speed collected the loose ball and brilliantly slammed in his third goal of the season.
Birmingham were rampant after the break but squandered most of their chances.
Bryan Hughes missed an eight-yard sitter. Then Given had to dash off his line to make a smart interception to deny Morrison.
Given was beaten by Forssell's dipping 35-yard volley but the effort dropped just over the bar.
Then Morrison missed his kick as he attempted to hook Savage's low cross into the net.
It looked like a Toon triumph — but then John steamed in. Two points lost, Bobby.

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