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Bruce suffers miserable return to Birmingham

SoccerNews in English Premier League 24 Oct 2009

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Sunderland manager Steve Bruce suffered a miserable return to Birmingham as his former club claimed a 2-1 victory on Saturday.

Goals from Liam Ridgewell and James McFadden either side of half-time at St Andrews piled on the pain for Bruce, who saw Scott Dann’s late own goal briefly give hope of a draw.

Bruce spent six years at Birmingham before effectively being forced out by the failed takeover of Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung in November 2007.

He described the situation at the time as impossible because Birmingham’s directors wouldn’t give him a new contract while Yeung was trying to buy the club.

So there was an added edge to this fixture, which marked Yeung’s first home game since he finally did complete his takeover earlier this month.

Birmingham seemed lifted by the positive mood provided by Yeung’s arrival and McFadden tested Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon before Christian Benitez beat Michael Turner and shot wide.

Birmingham were pushing hard and Cameron Jerome should have done better than shoot straight at Gordon after muscling his way past Turner.

Turner defended more impressively moments later as he got a block in to keep out McFadden’s shot.

Then Gordon made a fine stop to repel Benitez’s powerful strike but Sunderland couldn’t hold out any longer and Birmingham went ahead in the 37th minute.

Larsson’s free-kick reached Ridgewell and he bundled home from close-range despite Sunderland’s appeals for offside.

Sunderland have made their best start to a season for a decade and last weekend claimed a famous 1-0 win over Liverpool thanks to Darren Bent’s controversial goal which deflected in off a beach ball.

But Birmingham put paid to that run as they increased their lead three minutes into the second half.

Jerome flicked Larsson’s cross into McFadden’s path and he stepped inside full-back Phil Bardsley before curling a right-foot shot past Gordon.

It was the first time Birmingham had scored twice in the league this season.

They looked capable of adding to their tally and Anton Ferdinand had to block a Benitez shot after the striker had tricked his way through the visitors’ defence.

Benitez made space inside the penalty area again moments later and shot just past a post.

Bruce sent on Fraizer Campbell, George McCartney and Bolo Zenden in a desperate attempt to salvage some pride.

His gamble briefly looked as though it might pay off when Dann could only help Turner’s glancing header from a Andy Reid free-kick into his own net in the 82nd minute.

Bruce’s side might have snatched a point when Reid picked out Campbell but he headed over before Darren Bent smashed a volley just over in a dramatic finale.

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