Birmingham City 1 Manchester United 2

10th April 2004
St Andrews, Birmingham

Louis Saha and Cristiano Ronaldo were the heroes of the Manchester United comeback helped along the way by two brilliant crosses from veteran Ryan Giggs, who saved his best form for the championship run-in it seems.

United were lucky to be only one nil down at half time, with Birmingham dominating possession not least because chief ball-winner Roy Keane was rested (perhaps so he can play in the big game against Leicester on Tuesday?!) alongside Ruud van Nistelrooy, who still had swelling on his knee.

With the new-look midfield including Eric Djemba-Djemba and Fletcher, United failed to win the ball and hold on to it, losing out to Birmingham's more experienced central-midfield duo of Savage and Hughes.

For once the defensive injuries did not hit United, with the Blues losing left-back Lazaridis after 14 minutes after his studs caught the grass wrong, and his subsequent replacement Grainger at half-time.

Roy Carroll was looking accomplished in goal up until the goal, which came six minutes from half-time. A needlessly given away free-kick was cracked in from 30 yards by Grainger, with Carroll seemingly at fault parrying the ball into his own net. United had been lucky previously when a Robbie Savage free-kick struck the bar.

Birmingham could have been any number of goals up, but after half-time, and Fergie's team-talk, it was a different story. The Reds played with new impetus and drive, which almost led to a goal when Saha was let in, only for him to blast the ball high and wide.

On 55 minutes Portuguese star-let Cristiano Ronaldo entered the fray for the hard-working but unproductive Solskjaer. Just five minutes later and his impact was clear for all to see. Having taken the right-back for a dance down the wing, Ronaldo had helped to win a corner. This was taken by Giggs, who got a return ball. He jinked on way then the other before firing the ball into the box.

Ronaldo met it with a glancing header to send it past Taylor, with the Birmingham fans disappointed, rightly, with the linesman's decision that Saha wasn't interfering with play.

United remained in control of the game, and re-found their swagger that has been missing of late. Fergie threw on Forlan for Djemba-Djemba with fifteen minutes to go to try to secure a win, and the goal came just three minutes later.

Giggs played a free-kick directly into the danger-zone, and was rewarded for his accuracy by Saha's charging header that sent United into jubilation. United are still hot on the heels of Chelsea for the second spot, but have resigned themselves to losing the title, this year only, to Arsenal.

Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Martin Taylor, Cunningham, Upson, Lazaridis (Grainger 14, Clapham 45), Johnson, Savage, Clemence (John 78), Hughes, Forssell, Morrison.

Subs Not Used: Bennett, Tebily.

Man Utd: Carroll, Gary Neville, Brown, Silvestre, O'Shea, Fletcher, Djemba-Djemba (Forlan 74), Scholes, Giggs (Phil Neville 88), Saha, Solskjaer (Ronaldo 55).

Subs Not Used: Butt, Howard.

Attendance: 29,548

Referee: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).