The curse of the away draw has returned as Lee Bowyer’s 89th minute strike gave Birmingham City a 1-1 draw at St. Andrews against Manchester United.
Dimitar Berbatov gave the visitors the lead just before the hour mark but United could find a second and ultimately paid the price as Bowyer’s strike mean two points were dropped.
Obviously the only place to start is with the equalizer, and a controversial one as well. The cross from Roger Johnson was helped on by the arm of Nikola Zigic into the path of Bowyer who fired home from close range.
Sir Alex Ferguson was extremely irate at the decision to award a goal: “It was a handball and foul on the centre-half he went right through him, handball, if the referee can’t see that, what chance have you got?” irked the gaffer.
“That’s why we expect in a game of that importance you need a referee to see that. If he can’t see that what chance have you got? I can’t fault my team tonight. They worked hard, they’ve run their socks off with little rest. It’s hard on them, it’s hard.”
He also felt that the equalizer was harsh on United who he feels were the better side: “I think it is terribly harsh, I think we outplayed them in the second half and we didn’t deserve that,” he added.
“But football’s a funny game, it’s a tight league, it’s a difficult place to come to here, every team that comes here has a difficult game.
“I think we deserved to win the game, we were the better team and maybe we should have finished them off after we went 1-0 up and the number of times we counter-attacked against them, we just needed a bit more care in the final pass or finish, but otherwise it’s just one of those days, unfortunate.”
Having looked at the goal the ball did indeed hit Zigic on the arm, but he had his arm at his side and so would you consider the handball deliberate? For me it was not, and thus the handball is not a foul – I shall await criticism below.
However, there was a foul in my opinion in the build up when Kevin Phillips obstructed Rio Ferdinand’s leap to challenge Zigic. That is where the referee got it wrong.
Looking at the game as a whole we lacked creativity once more and Anderson was anonymous much to the disappointment of many. Wayne Rooney was also below par and has now gone nine months without scoring in open play.
But we must congratulate Dimitar Berbatov who came up trumps once more with a magnificently taken goal, coupled with some excellent build up play as well.
Over the Christmas period he has played with a renewed sense of energy and it has paid off, if only he can keep it up then we may finally see the Berbatov that persuaded Sir Alex to part with £30 million.
Credit though must be given to Birmingham who were organised and made life difficult. Ben Foster produced a magnificent save to deny Ryan Giggs in the first half, meanwhile Scott Dann was magnificent for the most part. It must also be remembered that they have a magnificent record at home and defeated Chelsea here whilst also holding Arsenal to a draw.
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