MATCH REPORT: CHELSEA 1 BIRMINGHAM CITY 1
Posted on: Sat 18 Feb 2012
It needed a second-half Daniel Sturridge
goal to keep Chelsea in the FA Cup after a set-piece put Birmingham in the lead.
The Championship side went ahead midway through a first-half in which the home team did not impress. Didier Drogba
and Salomon Kalou
returned to club action during the match but it was Sturridge's 11th
goal of the season that squared the score, a header after a well-worked move.
Chelsea were dominant by then and continued to be for the rest of the game although chances to win the match were limited and there was a late scare as the visitors wasted a chance to inflict a giantkilling.
returned from the injury sustained in the previous round at QPR and with John Mikel Obi
also back in the starting line-up, Frank Lampard
and Michael Essien
were dropped to the bench.
made his second start with Branislav Ivanovic
returning to right-back in place of Jose Bosingwa
who was also dropped. Ryan Bertand replaced injured Ashley Cole
The front three were unchanged for the sixth game running but Salomon Kalou
and Didier Drogba
were back among the subs having returned from the Africa Cup of Nations.
in what was to prove to be an opening period to forget for Chelsea, very little happened in the opening 10 minutes apart from a determined run into the Birmingham area by Daniel Sturridge
, but forced wide he eventually knocked the ball out for a goal-kick.
On 12 minutes Birmingham were forced into a change, losing their veteran captain Stephen Carr to injury.
Three minutes later, Mata, in the part of the pitch partly policed by Carr's replacement Jonathan Spector, almost plucked a Sturridge cross out of the air with his back to goal but as he turned, it ran out of play.
Then, on 19 minutes, a previously drab encounter exploded into life but not in a manner Chelsea fans were wishing.
First the visitors took the lead. Having won a corner, it was played into the near-post area where Cahill couldn't clear it. Ivanovic also missed the chance to make contact which left David Murphy in space to drill the ball home from close range. That was the first shot of the game from either side and it had inflicted a blow to Chelsea confidence.
The chance to slap the Championship side back down came just two minutes later when an unnecessary and clumsy challenge by Wade Elliott tripped Ramires
in a crowded penalty area.
Mata, who scored with his previous Chelsea penalty, was the obvious choice to take it with Lampard and Drogba on the bench but his low shot was tipped onto the post and was then cleared. It was a good save by Colin Doyle and did nothing for Chelsea belief.
On 25 minutes Sturridge was not far away from finding Torres with a centre but Curtis Davies made it his. Chelsea remained on top for the rest of half but without creating enough chances.
showed much needed enterprise in carrying the ball from halfway towards the Birmingham goal until David Mutch brought him down at the expense of a yellow card. The Brazilian took the free-kick himself and bent the ball up and down sharply over the wall but Doyle was able to push it over the bar.
Sturridge, from the left this time, put a little too much pace on a curling cross for Ivanovic, who had evaded the offside flag. Chelsea by now had switched to 4-2-3-1 with Mata now central and Ramires
on the right. Sturridge now decided to shoot at every opportunity and his best effort was a dipping shot that didn't clear the bar by much.
Birmingham's only effort of the half since their goal saw Cech save comfortably from Redmond.
Drogba replaced Torres for the restart. The shape remained 4-2-3-1 but now with Sturridge the more central player behind Drogba and Mata back out on the left. We continued to dominate possession but a good link between our midfield and attacking play was not there, although one Mikel long pass almost picked out a well-placed Drogba.
On 54 minutes, Cahill was wrongly booked for what was nothing more than good strong defending on Birmingham's lone striker Adam Rooney and two minutes later, Andre Villas-Boas
made a second change, bringing on Kalou for Mikel. Kalou now played on the left, Mata back in the middle with Sturridge on the right of the three behind Drogba.
The previously subdued Mata did well to get a shot away when closely marked but was a yard or two off target before he did make a telling contribution.
There were 61 minutes played when the Spaniard spotted Ivanovic in space down the right and found him with the necessary pass. The cross from the Serbian was delivered with pace and accuracy and it was given the finishing touch it deserved, Sturridge guiding a header inside the far post to put his side back level.
The quest was on for a winner. Kalou headed over from a Drogba cross and Ivanovic got the ball tangled among his feet after Mata had volleyed a cross with the power of a shot. Meireles then a shot from the edge of the area deflected up and just over the bar.
There was a rare shot from Birmingham on 76 minutes after Ramires
had conceded a free-kick, but Cech gathered it low down. The Chelsea defence, and Cahill in particular, were proving solid.
With 12 minutes left on the clock, Lampard replaced Mata. Drogba hadn't been involved much but he won a corner soon after that latest switch. Meireles's delivery though cleared the jumping blue shirts.
Drogba then back-heeled into the path of Ivanovic who tumbled after a defender fell on his legs. Our right-back wanted a penalty but it was an optimistic appeal.
With 86 minutes Birmingham did have their chance to win it after the Chelsea defence was caught square as Jervis knocked the ball forward but Redmond fluffed his big moment and the save was easy for Cech.
Wth 89 minutes gone and the rain now falling, Chelsea's chance came when Ivanovic was fouled 20 yards out and in a central position. Lampard however hit the free-kick into the wall.
It had been an improved second-half display but despite substitutions, the cutting edge was not sharp enough.
The replay will be Tuesday 6 March. kick-off 7.45pm.
(4-3-3): Cech (c); Ivanovic, Cahill, D Luiz, Bertrand; Ramires
, Mikel (Kalou 56), Meireles; Sturridge, Torres (Drogba h-t), Mata (Lampard 822).
Unused subs Hilario
, Bosingwa, Essien, , Malouda.
Cahill 54, David Luiz
(4-2-3-1): Doyle; Carr (c) (Spector 12), Davies, Ibanez, Murphy; Fahey, Gomis; Elliott (Burke 82), Mutch Redmond; Rooney (Jervis 70).
Butland, Caldwell, Asante, Reilly.