Crouch (63), Benayoun (76)
Forssell (33), Larsson (57)
Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Skrtel, Riise, Pennant,
Plessis, Lucas, Benayoun, Crouch, Voronin
Insua (Riise 64)
Itandje, Carragher, Gerrard, Kuyt
Murphy (45), Nafti (67)
Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)
Shots on target:
Shots off target:
"Now we can think about
game against Chelsea..."
2604: Rafa hails wideboy Pennant
2604: McLeish blames naivety
2604: Benayoun delivers blow to Blues
hails wideboy Pennant
By Toby Davis - Setanta Sports
Jermaine Pennant may have played himself
into contention for Wednesday’s Champions League clash with
Chelsea after Rafa Benitez hailed his performance in
Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Birmingham.
The winger was a stand-out performer in a weakened Reds side
that clawed their way back from 2-0 down to draw level at St
And Benitez was full of praise for Pennant who could now
play some part as The Reds look to get a result at Stamford
Benitez told the official club website: "Pennant was a
threat for them throughout the game and he is an option we
have on the right side and when he is playing well he is
He added: "Clearly if you have players playing well they can
give you an option on another day and that was another
positive from today.”
The result leaves Liverpool nine points ahead of Everton in
fifth place and virtually guarantees them Champions League
football next year.
And Benitez feels his side can now focus entirely on
Wednesday’s Champions League encounter.
He added: "The idea was to win and guarantee fourth place.
"We didn't achieve that but a draw is another option and
puts us in a very strong position. Now we can think about
the next game against Chelsea and hopefully we can progress
in the Champions League and be really focused in the final.
"I am really pleased with the second-half because I think
that the team played much better. To score two goals in the
second-half and create the chances we did was very, very
"We started the game controlling things for the first 30
minutes but then we conceded the goal and we couldn't
manage. So at half-time we talked about how we could improve
and I think the mentality of the players was positive.
"You must guarantee the Champions League for next season. We
are almost sure now in fourth position and so we can think
"I'd like to finish as high as possible but sometimes this
cannot happen and at the end you must be happy with the
fourth position and happy if you do well in the Champions
By Peter Fraser - Sky Sports
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish blames his
side's surrender of a two-goal lead against Liverpool on the
naivety of his players.
The Blues remain in the Premier League relegation zone
following a 2-2 draw with Liverpool at St Andrews as goals
from Mikael Forssell and Sebastian Larsson were cancelled
out by Peter Crouch, aided by a superb run from Jermaine
Pennant, and Yossi Benayoun.
And McLeish was not happy with what he saw from his
defenders as Liverpool fought their way back into the
"In the second half Liverpool really put us on the rack a
little bit," McLeish told Sky Sports News.
"To get the two goals was a dream start for us. Forssell got
the goal and Larsson has topped it off and I thought,
'finally we can get a shut out'.
"Jermaine Pennant had a great run for the first goal for
Liverpool. But I put it down to naivety from my players who
were diving in all over the place."
And as relegation rivals Fulham - who Birmingham visit next
weekend - came from behind to defeat Manchester City,
McLeish admits his side are in a fight.
"That was a great result," McLeish added when asked about
"Every team is fighting for Premier League survival and it
is a credit to the Premier League. It is up to us to show
the same sort of spirit."
Benayoun delivers blow to Blues
Yossi Benayoun's equaliser all but
clinched Champions League football for Liverpool but dealt a
big blow to troubled Birmingham in a 2-2 draw.
Alex McLeish's side had appeared to be coasting to victory
in Saturday's Premier League clash at St Andrews after goals
from Mikael Forssell and Sebastian Larsson had put them in
But a lethargic Liverpool suddenly came to life and, after
Peter Crouch had reduced the arrears, Benayoun's deflected
header rescued a point and dealt a massive blow to the home
Blues will be wondering how they surrendered two priceless
points after appearing to be cruising to only a second win
in the last eight matches.
Larsson and James McFadden were a handful throughout for the
Reds and Birmingham were also hard to break down - a sharp
contrast to the 5-1 mauling at Aston Villa last weekend.
But a failure to keep clean sheets has been an Achilles heel
for City all season and they were forced to defend
desperately for the final half hour.
Liverpool's inspiration was former Blues winger Jermaine
Pennant and he was one of the few players in Rafael
Benitez's 'shadow' side to stake a claim to start in the
second leg of the Champions League semi-final with Chelsea.
Benitez's line-up, showing nine changes from the starting XI
against Chelsea in the Champions League, had plenty of
possession in the early stages and were content to knock the
ball around and probe for an opening.
Lucas had the first effort on target from a cross by Andriy
Voronin but Blues goalkeeper Maik Taylor was able to save
comfortably away to his left as he failed to make full
Forssell showed good skill on the edge of the Liverpool box
to manufacture half a chance for himself but his volley flew
straight at Jose Reina.
Forssell was looking the most threatening for Blues when the
ball was played into his feet and good skills by the Finnish
international found Olivier Kapo in space on the left of the
But the former Juventus player opted to strike the ball
first time and his shot flew into the side netting.
Kapo did better when turning past Steve Finnan and getting
to the byline but he over-hit his cross with Forssell
waiting in the centre.
Then after 34 minutes the home side went ahead through
Forssell's ninth goal of the season.
McFadden was the creator with a teasing cross from the right
flank which seemed to glance off the head of Martin Skrtel
before finding Forssell unmarked at the far post.
He had time to bring the ball down before hammering it past
Liverpool tried to retaliate and Taylor was called into
meaningful action for the first time to turn aside a dipping
powerful 25-yard drive from Crouch.
Voronin became the first player to be yellow-carded after 42
minutes for a touch-line challenge on City skipper Liam
Then home defender David Murphy was booked in first half
injury-time for chopping down Pennant but, fortunately for
Blues, John Arne Riise was inches too high with his 30 yard
Benitez would have wanted a more committed performance from
his side and Liverpool had most of the possession in the
early stages of the second period.
But after 54 minutes St Andrews erupted after a stunning
free-kick from Larsson doubled Birmingham's lead.
McFadden was brought down by Skrtel some 25 yards out and
before the free-kick was taken both Riise and Hyypia
complained that Jaidi was obstructing Reina.
But the keeper had no chance as Larsson's curling effort
beat his dive and hit the top corner of the net.
Ridgewell got up well to meet a corner from Larsson but he
directed his header past the post when he should have at
least hit the target.
But Liverpool gave themselves a life-line after 62 minutes
when Crouch made no mistake with a first time drive from the
edge of the box after a mazy run by Pennant had created the
It means City have now gone 17 games since last keeping a
clean sheet against Middlesbrough on Boxing Day.
Jaidi had a chance to restore City's two-goal advantage but
headed Larsson's free-kick wide from close range before
Nafti was booked for bringing down Pennant.
But Liverpool were now in the ascendancy and Voronin and
Benayoun both wasted decent opportunities.
The visitors were not to be denied and after 77 minutes
Benayoun's deflected header brought them back on level
Lucas sent over a teasing cross which Benayoun was first to
react to but his header hit Jaidi and wrong-footed Taylor as
it trickled into the corner of the net.