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2016/17 English League Championship, 2016/2017 English League Championship
  • Nouha Dicko (73')
  • Maikel Kieftenbeld (27')
  • David Davis (32')
  • Paul Robinson (53')

Birmingham ease pressure on boss Gianfranco Zola with win at struggling Wolves

Birmingham manager Gianfranco Zola enjoyed a badly-needed win as his team secured a 2-1 success against local rivals Wolves at Molineux.
It was only Zola's second victory in 13 Sky Bet Championship games in charge of Birmingham and they achieved it despite being a man down for the final 37 minutes after the dismissal of captain Paul Robinson.
Birmingham were well in control by then - Maikel Kieftenbeld's 27th-minute strike putting them ahead before former Wolves midfielder David Davis doubled their advantage five minutes later.
Wolves striker Nouha Dicko sparked hopes of a home comeback when he struck in the 73rd minute with his first goal since August 2015 - the month when he suffered a serious knee injury which kept him out of first-team action until October last year.
But the hosts could not find a leveller as Birmingham ended ended a run of three successive defeats.
Wolves have lost their last four league games and are now facing up to the very real threat of a fight to avoid relegation.
The hosts sought to make a fast start, with Birmingham goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak doing well to collect an early cross from Andreas Weimann under pressure from Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.
Wolves left-back Matt Doherty then mis-hit his close-range shot and central defender Richard Stearman headed Jack Price's corner wide before Birmingham took control.
Kieftenbeld's opener was a personal disaster for Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme.
Ikeme dropped a right-wing cross from Craig Gardner right at the feet of Kieftenbeld and the Dutchman was able to stab the ball into an empty net from only six yards.
It was his first goal for 13 months with his previous strike coming in the 3-0 win against Ipswich in January last year.
While Ikeme was at fault for Birmingham's opener there was little that he could do to prevent City doubling their advantage.
A Che Adams cross from the right edge of the area took a slight deflection off Doherty.
That took the ball invitingly into the path of the on-rushing Davis whose first-time drive from 16 yards whistled straight past his former team-mate Ikeme for his fourth goal of the season.
Wolves should have reduced the arrears before half-time but the hard-working Bodvarsson was out of luck in front of goal.
He met a free-kick from Price with a powerful header from eight yards but his effort flew over the bar.
Bodvarsson was in the thick of the action again when Birmingham were reduced to 10 men in the 53rd minute.
He was sent crashing to the ground on the touchline by a rash challenge from Robinson and referee Stephen Martin showed him the red card after consulting with his assistant.
Despite their reduced manpower, Birmingham could have increased their lead in the 59th minute when Cheick Keita saw his goal-bound shot blocked.
Birmingham were then indebted to Kuszczak for maintaining their two-goal advantage when he somehow kept out a close-range header from Dicko following Helder Costa's cross.
Kuszczak was helpless when Costa teed up Dicko a second time.
On this occasion he rammed the ball past Kuszczak from six yards before Birmingham stood firm in the face of a late Wolves assault when Doherty lifted an effort over the bar.

English League Championship Standings

POS Team GP GD PTS
1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 21 +24 48
2 Cardiff City 21 +16 44
3 Bristol City 21 +12 40
4 Derby County 21 +12 38
5 Aston Villa 21 +11 37
6 Sheffield United 21 +8 37
7 Leeds United 21 +7 33
8 Middlesbrough 21 +7 32
9 Ipswich Town 21 +3 32
10 Preston North End 21 +3 32
11 Nottingham Forest 21 -4 30
12 Fulham 21 0 29
13 Brentford 21 +3 27
14 Reading 21 +2 27
15 Sheffield Wednesday 21 0 27
16 Norwich City 21 -6 27
17 Millwall 21 +1 23
18 Hull City 21 -2 22
19 Queens Park Rangers 21 -9 22
20 Barnsley 21 -10 20
21 Bolton Wanderers 21 -19 16
22 Birmingham City 21 -20 16
23 Sunderland 21 -12 15
24 Burton Albion 21 -27 14

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