EFL

Birmingham City 1 West Brom 1: Jota pays penalty as Blues remain winless

By Sports Desk September 14, 2018

Jota's failure from the penalty spot proved crucial as winless Birmingham City drew 1-1 with West Brom in a Midlands derby in the Championship on Friday. 

West Brom travelled to St Andrews knowing a win would see them go third in the table ahead of Saturday's fixtures.

But they were on the back foot for long periods against Garry Monk's men, who took the lead in the 26th minute when Jota capitalised on poor marking to flick home from a tight angle after Lukas Jutkiewicz's header down to the far post.

The winger was then presented with a golden chance to make it 2-0 three minutes later after Kyle Bartley inexplicably handled a right-wing cross. However, Sam Johnstone kept out the Spaniard's low penalty, and the Blues were left to rue the miss.

As with the opener, the defending was suspect when Matt Phillips fired a 39th-minute leveller beyond Lee Camp, while there was a distinct lack of quality at the other end for Birmingham four minutes later when Che Adams blazed over from close range.

It was Birmingham who had the better of the second half yet they could not find a way to beat Johnstone - and the Baggies almost snatched the points when Harvey Barnes rattled the crossbar late on.

Birmingham's wait for a first win of the league campaign goes on, this draw marking their fifth from seven matches, while West Brom sit in fifth, three points off the automatic promotion places.

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    Ernesto Valverde says he is unconcerned about Barcelona scoring only once in their last three matches in all competitions.

    Barca were held 0-0 at Lyon in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday, following their 1-0 home win against Real Valladolid and a goalless draw at Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga.

    Valverde's men are seven points clear of Atletico Madrid and a further two ahead of Real Madrid in the table despite winning only one of their previous three league matches, with the form of Luis Suarez placing the striker in the spotlight.

    Although the Uruguay international has hit 15 LaLiga goals this season, second only in the Spanish top-flight to team-mate Lionel Messi, Suarez has drawn a blank in five consecutive matches in all competitions.

    But speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Sevilla in LaLiga, Valverde is backing his misfiring front line to get back on track.

    "We had some games without finishing chances but we've been creating them and not giving chances away," Valverde told reporters. "We are looking forward to the challenge.

    "I don't know what to tell you. Sometimes results mean something as there are difficulties but it depends how you play. You might not win as you don't create chances, or you might dominate and not take your chances. Against Lyon we were creating chances but didn't convert them into goals.

    "If we keep creating chances then the goals will come. Statistics can help us analyse things but they can lie. Looking at the last 15 games shows a different pattern. Sometimes you need to look at a more global scale to see what they mean rather than a shorter scale, but we have to win [against Sevilla] and that's all that matters.

    "That's what being a player at a club like this is all about, sometimes you'll be the focus. This time it's the striker but it's a curious thing with Luis. The spotlight might be on him at the moment but at the start of the season he had a similar period, then people said nothing when he started scoring regularly.

    "Overall he has scored a lot of goals and I think he is the fifth highest goalscorer in the club's history. In the last two games he has created good chances and had those chances himself. He's been scoring all his life and will do it again. We need patience with him and we have that as he is a great player. We have every confidence in him."

    Saturday's game comes ahead of back-to-back Clasico clashes against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, Barca going to the capital for the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final – which is locked at 1-1 – before visiting again four days later in the league.

    "Don't forget tomorrow's game is a very important one," Valverde added. "We are playing against a very tough opponent, especially at home.

    "There are other games to think about but we have to put Sevilla behind us first. We aim to increase our lead and give the teams trying to catch us one fewer.

    "Nothing is decided now or next week. Things need to be decided and there are other teams, Atletico Madrid, who can still pick up points and are in the fight. We don't worry about other teams but what we can do, play our game tomorrow, then we will play at the Bernabeu.

    "We know full well they are two important games, and for our fans and everybody. Clasicos are important. But tomorrow will be very difficult and we know what is at stake. We were six points ahead of Madrid, now it is nine and seven from Atletico. We want it to be the same.

    "But although the Clasico is on the horizon we need to keep our focus on what we have straight ahead."

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