Birmingham City player ratings gallery vs Cardiff: Two score 3/10 and two 4s in dire 2-0 defeat

Birmingham City player ratings from Blues’ 2-0 defeat to Cardiff City at St Andrew’s in the Championship, with a tremendous Perry Ng free-kick the difference.

Birmingham City failed to make it three successive wins in the Championship on Tuesday evening, as fellow relegation battlers Cardiff City struck late to take all three points at St Andrew’s. Bluebirds midfielder Perry Ng gave the hosts the Valentine’s Day blues with a wonderful free-kick in the closing stages, before Callum Robinson netted off the bench to round off a vital 2-0 victory to move three points clear of the relegation zone. Birmingham edge closer to the drop once more.

Both sides made a slow start to the clash, taking a lot longer than usual to get a feel for the tempo of the game, which - to put it frankly - was sluggish in the opening half an hour. Blues just about edged possession but they were unable to create any clear-cut opportunities. Much of the attention was instead on referee Gavin Ward, who seemed very reluctant to give fouls. Despite being manhandled by the likes of Mark McGuinness and Cedric Kipre, Blues striker Lukas Jutkiewicz was having no joy in his attempts to win free-kicks in advanced positions.

The forward was causing problems regardless, with one of his many flick-ons forming a half-chance for the hosts just before the break. Nodding it beyond the Cardiff backline, Jutkiewicz found Scott Hogan and the Irishman played a brilliant through ball to Maxime Colin. The French right-back had his cross blocked, but the sequence offered some hope in progressing up the field. Other than that and a few set pieces, however, there was not much to report from the first half whatsoever.

It was much of the same at the start of the second period, but Blues finally managed their first shot on target - in the 54th minute - as Jutkiewicz’s tame header was caught by Bluebirds goalkeeper Ryan Allsop. Juninho Bacuna had put a brilliant delivery into the box but Cardiff dealt with it well. Soon after, the game was brought to life a little by a brawl between both sets of players near the halfway line, with Krystian Bielik and Kion Etete squaring up. Both received a booking.

The tempo upped somewhat on the hour mark as Cardiff broke loose on the right flank and Romaine Sawyers whipped in a wicked delivery to Sory Kaba, who chested the ball down and attempted a bicycle kick. His audacious effort did not threaten John Ruddy, though, as he watched it bounce wide of the post. Kaba had another opportunity with a similar technique a few minutes later, posing far more of a threat as the ball sailed merely inches above the top left-hand corner. A wake up call for Blues.

Eustace, seeing his team beginning to buckle under the pressure a tad, decided to make four changes in the 71st minute, with three of the four members of the midfield diamond making way for fresh legs. Jutkiewicz was also taken off after another night of top effort. Despite the changes, however, Cardiff were the side that looked the strongest in the latter stages and their pressure paid off as Perry Ng scored a remarkable free-kick from about 25 yards. Dean had misjudged a challenge and, although positioned from a tight angle, the resultant set piece was struck with power and movement over the wall.

Blues reacted well as they looked at their most dangerous in the closing moments, with substitute Jordan James going agonisingly close just before the clock struck 90. Flicked on by Hogan at the near post, the ball fell to James but a Cardiff defender swept in to make a vital intervention. It was too little too late from Blues, however, and Cardiff were able to rub salt in the wound on the counter attack, as Robinson came off the bench to put the game beyond doubt deep in stoppage time. Here are our Birmingham player ratings from the clash.

Attendance: 14,369. Away: 845.

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