Leeds United 3 Birmingham City 2: Healy gives Leeds a sharper edge

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Caretaker-boss John Carver staked his claim for the permanent job at Elland Road by masterminding Leeds' return to form three days after manager Kevin Blackwell was sacked.

Chairman Ken Bates ran out of patience with Blackwell on Wednesday and immediately installed his assistant Carver to take control on a temporary basis, with Leeds responding against high-flying Birmingham in spectacular fashion. Blues' recent signing Gary McSheffrey had already seen his 20-yard thunderbolt hit the woodwork before Healy volleyed home Leeds' opener and after Martin Taylor had handed the visitors a fortuitous equaliser, the Northern Ireland striker converted a 15th-minute penalty.

The game exploded into life again after an early second-half lull with Geoff Horsfield having a goal ruled out, Birmingham midfielder Damien Johnson dismissed and Nicklas Bendtner firing the Blues' second - all within the space of five minutes. Leeds clinched their third win of the season, in front of an 18,898 crowd, when Birmingham substitute Olivier Tebily headed into his own net in the 85th minute. Carver, who made his name as an astute coach under Sir Bobby Robson at Newcastle, has vowed to stick to a 4-4-2 formation and was as good as his word. Horsfield shook off a hamstring strain to start alongside the recalled Healy up front and fit-again Shaun Derry returned in a four-man midfield, with summer signing Kevin Nicholls, Jonathan Douglas and Eddie Lewis completing the quartet. Robbie Blake missed out against his former club - he spent just seven months at St Andrews - due to a groin strain. Birmingham manager Steve Bruce started with DJ Campbell and on-loan Bendtner in attack with Cameron Jerome on the bench. Leeds began in positive fashion, but it was Birmingham who nearly opened the scoring. McSheffrey picked up a loose ball and sped 30 yards unopposed before unleashing a venomous drive that rebounded back off the crossbar.

Leeds though were not to be denied a flying start under Carver and when Lewis' free-kick was allowed to bounce through to Healy just inside the penalty area, he lashed home a right-footed volley beyond Maik Taylor. The visitors struck back in the 13th minute when Mehdi Nafti's mis-cued shot arrowed straight to Taylor in the penalty area and when the big defender's shot hit the post it rebounded back off Tony Warner and over the goalline. But in a frenetic opening quarter Leeds restored their advantage within two minutes. Horsfield, against his former club, was wrestled to the ground inside the penalty area by Marcus Painter and Healy thumped home the resulting spot kick. Birmingham had a goal ruled out and Campbell booked after he deliberately handled before he shot home.

The second period was never going to match the start of the first, but Birmingham will feel Bendtner should have equalised just before the hour-mark when he headed straight at Warner from McSheffrey's cross. The Arsenal striker was further aggrieved moments later when his penalty appeal, having grappled with Kilgallon in the box, was waved away. Leeds then thought they had made it 3-1 when Horsfield slipped the ball under the keeper but it was disallowed.

Birmingham were then almost instantly reduced to 10 men after Damien Johnson's errant elbow pole-axed Westlake with the Blues midfielder being shown a straight red card. And 60 seconds after that Birmingham hit back when the languid Bendtner cut in from the right and squeezed home a low shot at the near post underneath Warner to equalise. However, Leeds claimed their third win of the season with five minutes left when Tebily headed Stone's cross into his own goal.