Hleb starts goal-rush to KO MK Dons

Birmingham City 3 MK Dons 1

Birmingham breezed into the fourth round of the Carling Cup as three quickfire goals from Alexander Hleb, Nikola Zigic and Craig Gardner all but saw off the threat of MK Dons before half-time.

On-loan Barcelona midfielder Hleb, making his St Andrew's debut, broke the deadlock in the 24th minute and he was soon joined in bagging his first goal for the club by summer signing Zigic.

And just four minutes after taking the lead the hosts had established a commanding three-goal advantage as Gardner lashed into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

Dons, fourth in npower League One, deservedly bagged a late consolation through substitute Aaron Wilbraham - but were completely unravelled by the devastating four-minute spell in what was the first meeting between the two sides since the club's 2004 relaunch.

It is also the first time Alex McLeish has guided Birmingham into the fourth round of the competition and he will now have one eye on Saturday's draw with a strong cup run a real possibility based on the strong squad at his disposal.

As promised, the Blues boss made a raft of changes to the side which lost 3-1 at West Brom on Saturday.

Summer signings Zigic, Matt Derbyshire, Jean Beausejour and Martin Jiranek were all handed starts, with the latter two making their full debuts, as part of nine new faces.

Only Hleb and new captain Roger Johnson remained.

MK Dons boss Karl Robinson made just one switch from the XI which drew 1-1 at home to Rochdale, Mark Carrington coming in for Jabo Ibehre who dropped to the bench.

Robinson vowed not to change the Dons' passing style for the tie and the visitors certainly looked comfortable on the ball in the early exchanges.

But it was Zigic who should have opened the scoring for Blues after just eight minutes. The ball broke kindly for him in the middle of the penalty area but he waited far too long and was eventually escorted away from goal.

McLeish was struck a blow in the 23rd minute when Michel was forced off with an injury having pulled up, with Gardner replacing the Spaniard.

But the Blues boss was all smiles within 60 seconds as Gardner found Beausejour on the left. He fed Hleb on the edge of area and he had plenty of time to pick his spot.

Within two minutes it was 2-0. Beausejour was again the architect, looping a ball into the path of Zigic, who showed cool composure under pressure to nick the ball past David Martin.

And before the visitors could catch their breath, Gardner had rifled in a low third from distance to all but seal the tie.

The League One side certainly had their chances as they looked to snatch a goal before the break. Oncoming substitute Ibehre saw an effort well blocked, Dean Lewington twice headed over and Lewis Guy stung the palms of goalkeeper Maik Taylor.

The visitors had not quite thrown in the towel in the second half but the odds were against them clawing back a 3-0 deficit against a side unbeaten at home in nearly a full year.

However, that did not stop them going in search of a consolation as Taylor saved from Carrington and Guy.

Centre-back Jiranek sidefooted over the bar when unmarked in a good position before Zigic headed wide from Stuart Parnaby's deep cross as Blues went in search of another.

But the visitors who grabbed the fourth goal of the night in the 80th minute, Wilbraham capitalising on a mix-up in the home defensive to lash past Taylor and into the bottom corner.

Dons pressed in search of a quick second as the majority of the 9,450 crowd inside St Andrew's became edgy, but there was no pulsating finish.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent