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Brum 2 Man Utd 2

Brum 2 Man Utd 2

BIRMINGHAM: Maik Taylor, Cunningham, Martin Taylor, Upson, Clapham (Painter 84), Pennant (Pandiani 75), Clemence (Kilkenny 69), Butt, Johnson, Heskey, Jarosik.

Subs Not Used: Vaesen, Tebily.

MAN UTD: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, O'Shea, Richardson (Giggs 86), Fletcher, Scholes, Smith (Park 83), Ronaldo (Solskjaer 83), van Nistelrooy, Rooney.

Subs Not Used: Howard, Pique.

Att: 28,459

Espanyol target and Brum substitute, Walter Pandiani, was the unlikely hero for the Blues at St Andrews as United let two points slip.

United had twice led through Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney, had the chances in the second half to kill off the game but Blues never gave up and gained only their fifth home point of the campaign.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side are now 11 points adrift of Chelsea after their single-goal win at Manchester City.

It took United only four minutes to break the deadlock through Van Nistelrooy's 17th goal of the campaign. Paul Scholes played a telling ball into the path of Kieran Richardson and the full-back had time to steady himself before sending over a low centre and Van Nistelrooy held off the challenge of Upson to drill his shot past Maik Taylor.

The Blues equalised after 19 minutes. United appealed in vain for a foul by former United midfielder Nicky Butt on Cristiano Ronaldo and Birmingham broke away in incisive fashion down the left.

Jamie Clapham and Jarosik combined, Emile Heskey turned the ball back into the path of Clapham and his low shot contained too much power for Van der Sar.

Rooney went close for the first time in the game when he spun past Martin Taylor on the edge of the box and fired a rasping shot only a yard wide but he made no mistake in the 53rd minute.

Alan Smith sent over a low teasing centre, Van Nistelrooy allowed the ball to run through to Rooney, who calmly clipped it wide of Maik Taylor into the corner of the net.

United were now enjoying more of the possession and Van Nistelrooy screwed a shot across the face of goal after racing onto a Rooney pass.

Ronaldo had the chance to wrap up the points for United after being played in by Van Nistelrooy but he sliced his shot across the face of goal.

Rooney was only inches off target with a sublime chip as Maik Taylor scrambled across his goal line after evading the challenge of Martin Taylor.

Bruce brought on Pandiani for Pennant and within three minutes the striker had brought Blues back on level terms.

Neil Kilkenny's free-kick found its way to Damien Johnson at the far post and he managed to turn the ball back across goal where Pandiani made no mistake.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was introduced by United for the final six minutes - his first senior action for 19 months after severe knee problems - but Blues held on.

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Date:Thursday December 29 2005
Time: 12:33PM

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