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.