St Andrew’s sickener for Blues

Lee Bowyer’s opening-half goal – his first for nearly 12 months –

earned Alex McLeish’s side a shock victory on Saturday. But their

hero was Foster who bounced back from his error on England duty in

midweek with a series of stunning saves. Chelsea dominated

proceedings for the entire 90 minutes but they could not find a way

past the former Manchester United player. It was a vastly improved

performance by Chelsea compared to their 3-0 home mauling by

Sunderland last weekend. But they tasted defeat in back to back

league games for the first time since the end of the 2005-2006

campaign and they now only lead Manchester United on goal

difference. In addition to Foster, City centre-backs Scott Dann and

Roger Johnson were outstanding. Chelsea were quickly into their

stride and Salomon Kalou missed an early chance to put them ahead.

Didier Drogba’s flick found Kalou with only Foster to beat but his

shot went through the legs of the keeper and just past the post.

Foster made a fine save to keep Birmingham on level terms after

Drogba was sent clear by Kalou. It was the kind of chance Drogba

would normally convert but Foster raced off his line to reduce the

angle and saved low to his left. Chelsea had quickly established a

grip of the game and were taking advantage of having an extra

midfield player. But Birmingham stunned Chelsea by taking their

lead via their first worthwhile attack after 17 minutes. Sebastian

Larsson’s right-wing cross was headed down by Cameron Jerome to

Bowyer who was completely unmarked and lashed the ball past Petr

Cech for his first goal of the season. Chelsea tried to retaliate

and Foster went down to his right to hold onto Drogba’s effort from

the right of the box. He then made a superb reflex save to keep out

Drogba’s close range header from Nicolas Anelka’s centre. Chelsea

continued to dominate and Foster again did well to beat out an

Ashley Cole shot after he had sized onto a pass from Kalou. Chelsea

were carving chances almost at will and Alex had a free header from

Florent Malouda’s corner but directed it past the post. Drogba

tried his luck with a low 30 yard free-kick and Foster was again

alert to turn it around the post. But he was helpless after 38

minutes when Drogba crashed a header against the crossbar from

Malouda’s cross. Ramires was first to react to the rebound but from

eight yards out slashed his shot wide. Chelsea continued in the

same manner after the break although there were less clearcut

openings. Johnson produced a superb tackle to stop Ramires after

his run into the box needed treatment to his knee before being able

to continue. Kalou had Chelsea’s best chance to date of the second

period when turning back inside but he curled his shot over the bar

with Foster off his line. Carlo Ancelotti brought on Jose Boswinga

in place of Paulo Ferreira after 65 minutes. The chances started to

come again for the visitors with Foster holding onto a Drogba

free-kick and Kalou heading wide from Anelka’s cross. Scott Dann’s

back pass played in Kalou but Foster took the ball away from his

feet with a perfectly timed challenge. Foster parried aside an

Branislav Ivanovic header as the pressure again became relentless.

Liam Ridgewell was yellow carded for bringing down Boswinga but

Chelsea could not find a way through.