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Millwall 2-0 Birmingham City: Wallace & Thompson deepen Blues’ relegation fears


Millwall’s top-scorer Jed Wallace scored his seventh of the season after an early Blues error

Millwall moved into the top half of the Championship with victory over Birmingham, to deepen the Midlands side’s relegation fears.

The Blues suffered a disastrous start when Jed Wallace pounced on Mikel San Jose’s back-pass to poke the ball past Neil Etheridge after three minutes.

Ben Thompson finished off Shaun Hutchinson’s low cross with 15 minutes remaining to put the game beyond doubt.

Substitute Jonathan Leko had the ball in the net for Birmingham late on but it was ruled out for offside.

Defeat sees the Blues remain second from bottom, a point adrift of safety, after just one win in their last 13 Championship outings.

The sides went into the game in contrasting form with Millwall unbeaten in six matches and the visitors without a win in their last five.

It was a nightmare start for Aitor Karanka’s side who found themselves a goal down with only three minutes on the clock.

San Jose’s pass sold his goalkeeper short and Millwall’s top scorer Wallace helped himself to his seventh of the season.

Birmingham enjoyed plenty of possession but found it difficult to create openings and when a miscued Bartosz Bialkowski punch dropped kindly to Harlee Dean, the Blues centre-back blazed over.

Despite their lack of possession, the hosts almost doubled their advantage shortly before the hour when Etheridge parried a Scott Malone shot to Matt Smith, whose goalbound effort was kept out by a last-ditch block from Dean.

The referee ignored claims that the defender had used his hand and the visitors almost equalised when Lukas Jutkiewicz turned smartly and fired in a powerful shot but Bialkowski was equal to it.

Millwall made the game safe after 75 minutes when Hutchinson’s inviting cross found Thompson, who had timed his run perfectly to slot the ball past Etheridge.

Birmingham City head coach Aitor Karanka told BBC WM 95.6:

“An individual mistake has punished us a lot because in our situation to concede a goal like that is difficult to take. We need to be going forward and be aggressive in attack but then we didn’t defend well and we conceded a second one.

“On Saturday I wasn’t happy with the performance but today I can’t say anything bad because the players were fighting to the last whistle.

“We need to win games. I don’t need to look at the table because the table is the reflection of your work on the pitch. I said to the players after the game they have to keep believing. The only way to turn this around is to keep working.”

Line-ups

Millwall

Formation 3-4-1-2

  • 33Bialkowski
  • 28Evans
  • 4Hutchinson
  • 5CooperSubstituted forPearceat 23′minutes
  • 12RomeoBooked at 78mins
  • 8ThompsonSubstituted forFergusonat 87′minutes
  • 19WoodsBooked at 80mins
  • 14Malone
  • 7J WallaceSubstituted forBradshawat 87′minutes
  • 10SmithSubstituted forBödvarssonat 71′minutes
  • 20BennettSubstituted forMitchellat 71′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Fielding
  • 9Bradshaw
  • 11Ferguson
  • 15Pearce
  • 22Bödvarsson
  • 23McNamara
  • 24Mitchell
  • 27Tiensia
  • 32Burey

Birmingham

Formation 3-5-2

  • 30Etheridge
  • 12Dean
  • 19San JoséSubstituted forValeryat 59′minutes
  • 15Clarke-Salter
  • 2ColinSubstituted forBelaat 81′minutes
  • 20Gardner
  • 34SunjicSubstituted forSánchezat 70′minutes
  • 24HarperBooked at 53mins
  • 3Pedersen
  • 10JutkiewiczBooked at 70minsSubstituted forLekoat 81′minutes
  • 9Hogan

Substitutes

  • 1Prieto
  • 5Friend
  • 6Valery
  • 11Bela
  • 14Leko
  • 17Sánchez
  • 18McGree
  • 23Toral
  • 35Halilovic

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