Redmond's promise takes the edge off elimination for Hughton
Birmingham City 1 NK Maribor 0
Needing the double whammy of victory over Maribor and a Braga win against Club Brugge in order to reach the knockout stages of the Europa League, Birmingham kept their half of the bargain only for the Portuguese club to snatch second place in Group H by drawing in Belgium.
Inspired by 17-year-old Nathan Redmond, who capped a dazzling display with a brutal 85th-minute volley against the inside of a post, the Championship's 13th-placed team prevailed through Adam Rooney's goal only to bow out due to the lack of a second Portuguese goal in the other Group H game.
Chris Hughton's team selection surprisingly suggested he set greater store by City's next domestic fixture, at Crystal Palace on Monday. Only Curtis Davies and David Murphy kept their places after the weekend win over Doncaster, although one of the replacements was Redmond, who lifted the crowd and team-mates alike with his touchline trickery.
Murphy, with a 25-yard free-kick that clipped Dalibor Volas and landed on the roof of the net, almost rewarded home dominance before Redmond conjured a goal midway through the first half. Skipping nonchalantly past the lunging Brazilian, Arghus, he looked up and picked out the run by Rooney, whose cushioned header from four yards was his first goal since August.
News of a goal for the home side in Bruges, where Braga were reduced to 10 men by a first-half red card, added to a deflated atmosphere early in the second half. Almost inevitably it was Birmingham's youngest player, Redmond, who showed the desire and the quality to rise above the gloom, a fierce angled shot testing the agility of Jasmin Handanovic.
A nasty challenge on Redmond by Arghus spoke volumes for the teenager's impact, leading to a melee of players and a booking for the defender. Word of a Braga equaliser in Belgium livened the fans and produced the pressure which saw Davies inexplicably fail to connect with a free header from a Redmond corner. But in the end there was to be no miracle in Bruges – or Birmingham.
Birmingham City (4-4-2): Doyle; Spector, Pablo Ibanez, Davies, Murphy; Redmond (Burke, 88), Gomis (N'Daw, 73), Fahey, Beausejour; Zigic, Rooney (Mutch, 79).
NK Maribor (4-4-1-1): Handanovic; Potokar, Vidovic, Rajcevic, Arghus (Trajkovski, 75); Mezga, Mertelj, Filipovic, Cvijanovic (Ibraimi, 68); Marcos Tavares (Velikonja, 71) ; Volas.
Referee S Kever (Switzerland).
Latest in Sport
Wow - what a weekend for British Motorcycle racing!
by Luke Wilkins
22 May 2013 05:00 AM
The dust is barely settling on the Premier League season and the bookies are looking to persuade us ...
by Gareth Purnell
22 May 2013 02:01 AM
The guard has changed at Old Trafford for the first time in 26 years. Meanwhile, down the road, the ...
by The Sports Lawyer
21 May 2013 10:01 PM
Exclusive: Championship clubs set to push for safe-standing trials
Sergio Garcia at centre of racism row as dispute with Tiger Woods continues
Gaël Clichy: Roberto Mancini must take share of blame for dismissal
Phil Neville in frame for role at Stoke City
Andy Carroll stalls on £15m move to West Ham in hope Newcastle step in
- 1 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 2 Swedes set up 'ultimate Viking movie'
- 3 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
- 4 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
- 5 'It was just like the movie Twister': Man survives Oklahoma tornado by taking refuge in horse stall
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.