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Birmingham stage another dramatic comeback

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish was put through the cup wringer again by his team before emerging with another cup victory at St Andrew's.

Three days after coming from 3-1 down on aggregate to beat West Ham and reach the Carling Cup final, the Blues were two down inside 26 minutes through goals from Marlon King and Richard Wood before David Bentley, Stuart Parnaby and Kevin Phillips secured a 3-2 victory to advance to the FA Cup fifth round.

"I wouldn't want to live through that too often with the stress levels but I thought the team played well today," said McLeish after the encounter. "There was a lot of really good stuff."

One of the few disappointing performances came from giant striker Nikola Zigic, and McLeish confirmed Racing Santander have made an enquiry to take their former player back. The Scot, though, insisted no decision has yet been made and denied Zigic would definitely be on his way if the club manage to agree a loan deal for Rubin Kazan striker Obafemi Martins.

"Santander have been in touch but we'll be together in the decision with the board as we always are," said McLeish. "I said after the midweek game that it would be difficult to let Ziggy go on that kind of form."

Of the prospect of landing former Newcastle forward Martins, the Blues boss added: "We're trying to get him. We're working hard on that but it's not a done deal yet."

Things began well for Birmingham yesterday as they created two golden chances in the opening nine minutes, with Zigic heading just wide before Phillips saw his header brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Keiren Westwood.

But they were made to pay for those misses two minutes later when King was given far too much space to turn and fire into the far corner, while the Sky Blues deservedly grabbed a second 26 minutes in -- former Blue Gary McSheffrey picking out Wood from a corner.

Birmingham were given hope 10 minutes before half-time when Tottenham loanee Bentley lashed a shot beyond Westwood from 25 yards and after the break the hosts were always in the ascendancy.

They had to wait until the 67th minute for their equaliser, though, and it could hardly have come from a more unlikely source. Parnaby had not scored since a game between Middlesbrough and Bolton almost five years ago, but the full-back found himself in the right place to hook in Alexander Hleb's pull-back.

And six minutes later Blues went in front thanks to evergreen Phillips, who was positioned perfectly at the back post to volley in Jean Beausejour's corner and provide a perfect finish to a landmark week for Birmingham.

Sunday Indo Sport