ANFIELD ONLINE MATCH REPORT
|Luis Garcia 68
Warnock 72 og
Cisse 85 pen
Birmingham midfielder Neil Kilkenny was sent off on his Premiership debut as Djibril Cisse's penalty rescued a point for Liverpool at St Andrews.
The 19-year-old former Arsenal trainee was red-carded after handling a goal-bound header from Jamie Carragher with six minutes remaining.
Up stepped substitute Cisse to send Maik Taylor the wrong way from the spot and complete a dramatic spell of four goals in a quarter of an hour. Luis Garcia had opened the scoring for the visitors before Stephen Warnock's own goal and substitute Walter Pandiani had put the hosts ahead.
Birmingham will be relieved to have ended a run of three successive home defeats but Liverpool will be disappointed at having to settle for a fourth draw in five league games with their campaign struggling to gain momentum.
Liverpool could have taken the lead inside the first 30 seconds with Blues keeper Taylor blocking a close-range effort from Steven Gerrard after Peter Crouch had won the ball in the air.
The visitors, unbeaten in the Premiership this season, looked bright and bubbly in the early stages. Xabi Alonso had a low effort on target from 25 yards out but Taylor was able to save comfortably away to his right.
Blues, who completed the double over the Merseysiders last season, started to gain a foothold in the match and Carragher had to be alert to block out the threat of Mikael Forssell after he had seized a ball over the top from Mario Melchiot.
Former Liverpool striker Emile Heskey had a decent opportunity to break the deadlock after 23 minutes after bringing down a long ball from Damien Johnson. Heskey managed to get his low shot on target but he did not strike his shot cleanly and Jose Reina was able to block his low effort.
Liverpool retaliated and three minutes later only the woodwork denied Gerrard whose left-footed drive from 25 yards thudded against the inside of a post. The rebound fell to Florent Sinama-Pongolle but his follow-up shot was blocked.
Boudewijn Zenden then attempted an ambitious volley from just outside the Birmingham box but it drifted wide.
Sinama-Pongolle became the first player to be booked after 34 minutes for a foul on the combative Johnson and Birmingham left-back Jamie Clapham followed him into the referee's note-book for a mis-timed challenge on Sinama-Pongolle.
The second half began brightly and Forssell had half a chance after running onto Clapham's left-footed chip but his control let him down and the ball ran through to Reina.
Back came the visitors and Gerrard cut in from the left and past Melchiot and Upson only to drill his rising shot wide of Taylor's left-hand post.
Birmingham were now well in contention and some of the Liverpool play became ragged. Reina failed to deal cleanly with a centre from Melchiot but again Forssell's control on the edge of the box could have been better.
Benitez was concerned enough to make his first substitution after an hour with Luis Garcia replacing Sinama-Pongolle. Taylor blocked a low Stephen Warnock drive but a committed performance from Blues was knocking the Reds out of their stride.
Garcia was booked for throwing the ball away after City had been awarded a free-kick but in the 67th minute he gave Liverpool the lead.
Peter Crouch chested the ball down into the path of Gerrard who surged forward and fed Garcia whose left-footed drive flew past Taylor into the bottom corner of the net.
Birmingham retaliated in dramatic style and two goals in four minutes put them in front. After 72 minutes Julian Gray chased down a corner from Jermaine Pennant which had flown across the face of goal and turned the ball back towards the near post.
There appeared little danger but Warnock attacked the ball and it glanced off his head and past Reina for the equaliser.
Bruce then brought on Walter Pandiani for Forssell and it proved a master-stroke as he put Birmingham ahead with virtually his first touch of the ball.
Reina failed to hold a glancing Heskey header from Pennant's right-wing cross and Pandiani was the first to react as he turned home the rebound.
But back came Liverpool and Kilkenny was sent off on his debut for handling a header from Carragher which came back off the bar. From the spot Cisse sent Taylor the wrong way to secure a draw for Liverpool.
Birmingham Maik Taylor, Melchiot, Cunningham, Upson, Clapham, Pennant, Johnson, Kilkenny, Gray, Forssell (Pandiani 73), Heskey (Tebily 90).
Subs Not Used: Martin Taylor, Lazaridis, Vaesen.
Sent Off: Kilkenny (84).
Booked: Clapham, Cunningham.
Liverpool Reina, Josemi, Carragher, Hyypia, Warnock, Sinama Pongolle (Luis Garcia 60), Alonso, Hamann (Riise 79), Gerrard, Zenden (Cisse 68), Crouch.
Subs Not Used: Finnan, Carson.
Booked: Sinama Pongolle, Luis Garcia, Warnock.
Ref: S Bennett (Kent).
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|Match Report filed: 25 September 2005|