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Gaffe hands underdog Birmingham rare trophy
by Paul Kennedy, February 27th, 2011 11:23PM

TAGS:  england


[ENGLAND] Alex McLeish won seven titles as the manager of Scottish club Rangers, but he called Birmingham City's 2-1 win over Arsenal in the English League Cup final the "best ever" win of his career.

A last-minute goal by Nigerian Obafemi Martins gave Birmingham its first trophy in 48 years. The goal followed a blunder by Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who failed to collect Nikola Zigic's glancing header from a long pass into the box in a mix-up with French defender Laurent Koscielny.

"At Rangers, I was expected to win trophies," said McLeish, "but to come to England, my first trophy attempt, and to win against the might of Arsenal is a dream come true for everybody connected to the club. Nobody gave us a prayer -- we were massive underdogs. But sometimes the bookies don't get it right and we proved that today with phenomenal belief, phenomenal courage and some good football."

Birmingham City's England international goalie Ben Foster, who had given up a bad goal to West Ham in the semifinals, sympathized with Szczesny.

"He's got an unbelievable future ahead of him," Foster said. "I think he's come in for the last couple or so games and he's been absolutely amazing.  The pressure he must have been feeling. He's just got to put it behind him [the error in the final] and move on, because he looks an amazing prospect."

Foster blamed Koscielny, a defender in only his second season of top-flight soccer, for the goal.

"The center half kind of just got involved when he didn't really need to," Foster said. "I thought the goalkeeper probably shouted for it. Obviously, there's a lot of noise in Wembley. He [Koscielny] couldn't hear and he's just tried to clear when it was obvious that it would drop into his [Szczesny's] hands. It's one of those things: when it's not heard, it kind of looks bad on the goalkeeper. But if the defender had just left it, it would have dropped right into his [Szczesny's] hands."

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