Klasnic strike enough to sink Birmingham
Bolton Wanderers 2 Birmingham City 1
Birmingham, despite losing to goals from Kevin Davies and Ivan Klasnic, celebrated their best league finish since 1959; for Bolton, the summer holds the prospect of looking forward to a tenth consecutive season of Premier League football. By such standards are campaigns viewed a success for many outside the division's elite.
Security long since assured, the fact this was just about as low-key as any fixture on the day's card should not have come as too much of a surprise and led to each side throwing caution to the wind to a large extent. In the case of Bolton, that led to Davies slipping his marker to meet Paul Robinson's left-wing free-kick with a header, seven yards out, which gave Joe Hart no chance. The home team's lead was doubled just before the hour as the latest in a series of clever passes from Jack Wilshere played in Vladimir Weiss who, with the aid of some terrible defending, squared for Klasnic to score. The visitors fought back through lively substitute Christian Benitez who was awarded a 75th-minute penalty after a minor entanglement with Zat Knight. After Benitez's kick was well saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen – who then blocked Lee Bowyer's follow-up attempt – James McFadden eventually scrambled the ball home at the far post.
The fact it had taken Birmingham three attempts to score from the penalty summed up their problems on the day, if not the season as a whole. Alex McLeish's side might have been on their way to making mathematically certain of ninth place inside the opening 90 seconds when a good run from Cameron Jerome climaxed in an intelligent pass back across the area, which Bowyer completely mis-hit.
Hart, one of the big success stories among many at St Andrew's this season, saved superbly from Matt Taylor, but Jerome, twice, and Bowyer were again guilty of poor misses from promising situations.
City's frustrations might have worsened considerably before the interval after Wilshere's shot appeared to hit the arm of Liam Ridgewell in the area and, after no penalty had been awarded Taylor again missed woefully. The introduction of Benitez, however, added mobility and urgency to the attack and the Ecuador international glanced wide moments before winning the penalty that brought down the curtain on a season to remember for Birmingham.
Bolton (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, Knight, Cahill, Robinson; Weiss (Chung-Yong, 66), Muamba, Wilshere, Taylor; K Davies, Klasnic. Substitutes not used: Samuel, Gardner, M Davies, Ricketts, Al Habsi.
Birmingham (4-4-2): Hart; Carr, Johnson, Ridgewell, Vignal; Larsson (Benitez, 66), Ferguson, Bowyer, McFadden; Jerome, Michel (Fahey 75). Substitutes not used: Taylor, Murphy, Fahey, Parnaby, Carsley, Mutch.
Referee: K Friend (Leicestershire).
Booked: Bolton Klasnic; Birmingham Ridgewell, McFadden, Johnson.
Man of the match: Weiss.
Despite conceding twice, Joe Hart will not have done his World Cup chances any harm as the 23-year-old keeper was let down by his defence for both goals and saved superbly, early, from Matt Taylor. Bolton defender Gary Cahill put in a solid display but did allow Cameron Jerome a lot of space at times which a better opponent would have exploited.
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
- 1 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Bloody attack brings terror to capital’s streets
- 2 Mothers' diets may harm IQs in two-thirds of babies
- 3 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
- 4 Eyewitness gives extraordinary account of her confrontation with Woolwich attackers
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL might have a sinister plan as a soldier is murdered in suspected Islamic terrorist attack
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.