Birmingham City player ratings gallery vs Millwall: One scores 9/10 and five 8s in 1-0 win

Player ratings from Birmingham City’s 1-0 win over Millwall in the Sky Bet Championship.

Birmingham City soared up to 15th in the Championship standings with a narrow 1-0 victory over play-off chasers Millwall on Tuesday evening. Club legend Lukas Jutkiewicz’s first half strike - his fifth goal of the season and a rare one with his feet - was the difference as the Lions’ top six hopes were eroded at The Den. The visitors showed remarkable graft and determination to dig their heels in and defend their lead, with many players running themselves into the ground despite having fairly little to play for.

Birmingham had the better of it in the opening half an hour with better progression in possession and they perhaps should’ve had a spot-kick early on as Tahith Chong was dragged to the ground in Millwall’s penalty area. The former Manchester United man had his shirt pulled before landing on the turf but referee Dean Whitestone didn’t see beyond a maze of Lions shirts and waved it away.

Blues carried on their momentum approaching the half-hour mark and it paid off as Reda Khadra picked it up on the right flank and played in Lukas Jutkiewicz with a genius through ball. The target man did brilliantly to take it into his stride and round Lions goalkeeper George Long before squeezing it in from a very tight angle to give Birmingham the lead.

Millwall reacted well as they managed an improved spell on the ball, with Zian Flemming causing trouble with his long throws. The midfielder had a free-kick tipped over the crossbar by John Ruddy as he struck well from around 25 yards before Jake Cooper headed agonisingly close beyond the right post from a corner. It was the last involvement for Ruddy as he was replaced by Neil Etheridge soon after having hurt a muscle in his leg.

The second period started with a far higher tempo than the first as Khadra nearly got a goal of his own with a deflected long-range effort. Blues’ wide man fired within just moments of the whistle being blown as the ball flew towards goal with power, but Long was there to make a fairly comfortable save. Millwall then showed urgency to get an equaliser with some improved attacking play but Blues looked solid defensively.

With the desperation for goals to keep their play-off hopes alive, Etheridge was forced into a number of big saves by the hosts, including a huge double stop in the 82nd minute. From a couple of close-range headers to pop shots heading fiercely near the corners, the Filipino was in the right places to keep Millwall at bay as Blues were forced deeper and deeper as the half went on.

Much to the delight of a packed away end in the English capital, Blues were able to hold on to their narrow lead to equal their best points total since the now-Millwall manager Gary Rowett left his role at Birmingham, all the way back in 2016. Here are our player ratings.

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