Premier League - Foster magic helps Birmingham beat Chelsea
Sat, 20 Nov 16:57:00 2010
Chelsea slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Birmingham as Lee Bowyer's goal condemned the Premier League champions to defeat at St Andrew's.
Birmingham scored after 17 minutes courtesy of Bowyer's composed finish and from that point on goalkeeper Ben Foster kept Chelsea at bay
Time and again the visitors got close but an exceptional day's work from Foster kept them ahead and on the one occasion he was beaten by Didier Drogba, the post came to his rescue.
Chelsea began brightly and Salomon Kalou nearly found the opener within a minute, latching on to Drogba's chest-down and poking a shot through Foster's legs but wide of the post.
Drogba forced a sharp save from the onrushing Foster five minutes into the match as the visitors dominating possession.
But a slick move from the home side provided the goal with Sebastian Larsson's cross expertly met by Cameron Jerome who put a precise header into Bowyer's path. With two men sucked towards the striker, Bowyer was left one-on-one with Petr Cech and struck the ball crisply past the goalkeeper.
Only a quite exceptional save from Foster, tipping the ball away low to his left prevented Drogba from levelling the scores with a header.
Another good save denied Ashley Cole after the full-back linked up with Kalou who played several incisive through balls.
Still the equaliser did not come and when Drogba finally connected with a header that was too good for Foster, the Ivorian saw his effort come back off the post. Ramires got on to the loose ball, but missed the target with his follow-up.
The second-half continued in the same pattern as the first with Chelsea having as much as two-thirds of the possession in their search for a goal.
Birmingham fought magnificently, exemplified by a superb sliding tackle from Roger Johnson to dispossess Ramires as the Brazilian surged into the box.
Kalou then had a gilt-edged chance, turning Foster before a howling miss as he placed his shot over the crossbar.
It looked almost certain that the leveller would eventually arrive as Birmingham failed to add another effort to their single shot on target.
But time continued to trickle away and Birmingham managed to negotiate four minutes of injury time before sealing a famous and determined win.
Chelsea remain top of the table despite their third defeat in four Premier League games but Manchester United join them on 28 points after their victory against Wigan.
Carlo Ancelotti will be left to ponder how his side could come away empty-handed from a match they dominated.