Birmingham City soared into the top half of the Sky Bet Championship table on Friday evening with a convincing 2-0 win over Queens Park Rangers. Blues were good value for the victory despite having less possession of the ball on the night.
It was a dream start for the hosts as Auston Trusty netted his third goal of the campaign with a delightful finish within the opening 10 minutes. QPR failed to deal with a dangerous Hannibal corner and Trusty’s audacious backward flicked effort lobbed goalkeeper Semi Dieng.
The Rs responded well with a good spell of possession, but the Blues’ counter-attacking approach paid off as Emmanuel Longelo added a second on the half-hour mark. Picking up a Hannibal pass on the left-hand side, the Nigerian sent Ethan Laird the wrong way, cutting inside and curling an effort into the bottom right-hand corner.
QPR improved toward the end of the first period but were unable to create any clear-cut opportunities to trouble John Ruddy. After the break, City came out firing and displayed plenty of confidence, standing their ground against much of the threat coming from Michael Beale’s side.
Blues were perhaps fortunate to remain with 11 men on the field as Hannibal got away with a crunching challenge early in the second half. The Manchester United loanee had already been booked but managed to stay on - before John Eustace took him off right afterward.
Hannibal wasn’t the only player to be cautioned, as eight players received yellow cards from referee Tim Robinson in a rather feisty encounter. The fouls broke up the play and - if anything - benefited Blues as the Hoops were unable to build too much momentum.
Some chances did come eventually for the visitors but they were unable to convert. An Ilias Chair cross found Ben Amos a few yards out from goal, but he couldn’t keep his header down. Chair then had an effort of his own from outside the area, but this was caught by Ruddy - a routine save.
QPR were handed a route back into the contest with a penalty kick in the 78th minute. Longelo, who was cautioned as a result, made a clumsy aerial challenge and was punished accordingly. Lyndon Dykes stepped up and fired with power - but Ruddy guessed the right way and saved emphatically.
Despite all the pressure from the Rangers, City were able to hold on for an impressive home victory, earning what could turn out to be a very important three points. Here are our player ratings from the game - including three standout players with an 8/10.