Birmingham City 1 Everton 1: Jaidi trickery distracts from Zarate magic moment

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The Independent Online

Usually, a spectacular free-kick that levelled an important game would claim the headlines. But there was an incident in the build-up to Mauro Zarate's latest abracadabra moment that was a story in itself.

As the young Argentine lined up to cancel out Joleon Lescott's opener, the Birmingham centre-half Rahdi Jaidi decided to give his team-mate a helping hand, star-jumping in front of the goalkeeper, Tim Howard.

The result? Zarate's beautiful effort curled away from Howard and into the net, leaving Birmingham two points clear of third-bottom Bolton and Everton two adrift of Liverpool in fifth.

Jaidi, who has an awful lot more to his game than such dubious tricks, revealed he had learnt this one from Kevin Nolan during his time at Bolton. So Nolan, a Liverpool nut, unwittingly helped frustrate Everton and assist his own side's biggest rivals in the fight against relegation.

"I saw the keeper was a bit frustrated and so I thought I could maybe affect his concentration," Jaidi said. "It's something we used to do at Bolton; Kevin Nolan did it all the time. Yes, I learnt it from him, I suppose. Nolan did it a lot and we scored a lot of goals from free-kicks. It's not something I practise on the training ground, I just thought I'd give it a go."

Howard, whose double save from Jaidi and James McFadden had earlier prevented Birmingham from taking the lead, said: "I tried to draw the referee's attention. I don't think referees and linesmen are going to have enough gumption to disallow a goal on the basis of that.

"They probably should do. He's in an offside position and he's interfering with me, he was in my line of sight. I suppose it's ungentlemanly conduct, in a way, but he got away with it. The guy who robs a bank – if you don't catch him then he keeps the money."

It would have been robbery had Birmingham come away empty-handed. Cameron Jerome struck a post in the first half and Birmingham were the better side after the break. Lescott was excellent for Everton and could have opened the scoring early when Liam Ridgewell and Stephen Kelly got in a tangle. But his ninth goal of the season arrived after 78 minutes when Yakubu headed a Lee Carsley cross towards goal and Lescott got the touch.

Zarate ensured a torrid week for the Blues ended on a bright note after Carsley handled outside the area. However, with Aston Villa and Liverpool to come, it is still squeaky Brum time.

Goals: Lescott (78) 1-0; Zarate (83) 1-1.

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Taylor; Kelly, Ridgewell, Jaidi, Murphy; Larsson (Jerome, 24), Muamba, Nafti, McSheffrey; Forssell (O'Connor, h-t), McFadden. Substitutes not used: Doyle (gk), Queudrue.

Everton (4-4-2): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines; Pienaar (Anichebe, 65), Neville, Carsley, Fernandes; Johnson, Yakubu (Gravesen, 89). Substitutes not used: Wessels (gk), Yobo, Valente.

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

Booked: Birmingham Nafti; Everton Carsley.

Man of the match: Lescott.

Attendance: 25,923.

Birmingham's survival task

*BLUES 17th (31pts)

20 April Aston Villa (a)

26 April Liverpool (h)

3 May Fulham (a)

11 May Blackburn (h)

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