Birmingham City 4 Tottenham Hotspur 1: Forssell hat-trick spurs Birmingham to easy pickings

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The Independent Online

Another Saturday brought another visit from north London rivals, although this one passed without agony or controversy. After a torrid week of blame, recrimination and soul-searching, that was a blessed relief for Birmingham, who, courtesy of a Mikael Forssell hat-trick, also welcomed three points to carry them further away from the relegation zone.

This was a stirring effort from Alex McLeish's side; to raise themselves from the drama of the week previous that saw a foul by Martin Taylor on Eduardo da Silva cast horror throughout the game. In Spurs they found the ideal opponents, still on something of a comedown of their own following their Carling Cup success – not to mention all that partying – last Sunday.

It was as if they had looked at Birmingham in the tunnel and whispered: "Fancy an easy one this afternoon, lads? You look like you need it." Indeed, they did, if only to extend their unbeaten League run to four. Whisper it in Islington and Croatia, but that 10-man draw could be the turning point for which Birmingham had been waiting.

"I don't think what happened last week had anything to do with today," McLeish said. "We have a remit to stay in the Premier League and the players have been fighting so hard."

Nevertheless, there were reminders of the desperate scenes of seven days earlier with banners supporting Taylor, while at the same time extending best wishes to Eduardo. Meanwhile, in the match programme, McLeish called for a line to be drawn and for the club to be allowed to move on.

Juande Ramos did his bit to give proceedings a low-key feel by making five changes to the side which had beaten Chelsea. That was perhaps understandable as Spurs are rooted in mid-table, are not going anywhere in the Premier League and PSV Eindhoven will call in the last 16 of the Uefa Cup on Thursday.

Ramos admitted: "It's fair to say the players weren't showing full concentration. They need to play at a continuing level as they have previously. They must not allow themselves to relax."

They were in hammock mode from the off. Within seven minutes, Birmingham were ahead when James McFadden whipped the ball across the area for Forssell to head home. St Andrew's was fizzing, Spurs flat. But where there's Dimitar, there's danger.

In the 20th minute, Berbatov picked up a sloppy pass in midfield, ran at the retreating home defence, and saw his right foot strike the goalpost. That awakened Spurs from their stupor, and they could have gone in level had Liam Ridgewell not been sharp in turning away Steed Malbranque's cross.

The mini resurgence was not enough to impress Ramos, who at half-time replaced Malbranque and Teemu Tainio with Robbie Keane and Jermaine Jenas. But with Spurs one midfielder down Birmingham capitalised. Didier Zokora's crude challenge on David Murphy allowed Sebastian Larsson a potshot at Robinson and the Swede curled it inside the far post. Soon it was three as Tottenham all but gave up.

Again it was Forssell applying the necessaries after Robinson had spectacularly turned away another Larsson effort, but only into the path of the grateful Blue. There was plenty of time left for Forssell to notch his third, which he did when put in by McFadden. Jenas did grab a consolation, but it was not much of one as by then Birmingham were sure of recording their first double over Tottenham in 32 years. Not that Spurs seemed to care.

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