Blues 2 Man Utd 2

Last updated : 30 December 2005 By Brian Cartlidge

It appeared as if Man Utd were heading for a second win against Blues inside a week when the irrepressible Wayne Rooney gave them the lead early in the second half.

Blues, however, battled hard and deserved their point from the encounter.

With the second worst scoring record in the Premiership it's hardly surprising that bottom but one Blues are in trouble and the continued lack of goals from Emile Heskey, in particular, is a problem which needs urgent attention.

The hosts lacked real penetration for much of the opening period and left-back Jamie Clapham scoring his first ever goal for the club illustrated Birmingham's obvious shortcomings.

As usual, United quickly built promising attacks and they took a fifth-minute lead as a result of a well-executed move.

Paul Scholes put Kieran Richardson clear on the left with an angled pass and the England international's cross was jabbed home by Ruud van Nistelrooy, despite the close attention of Martin Taylor.

To their credit Blues refused to cave-in despite some strong United pressure.

In face they had United's defence at panic stations following a Jermaine Pennant corner, when a Clapham header was cleared off the goalline by Scholes.

Jiri Jarosik then had a powerful low free-kick saved by Edwin Van der Sar, which certainly raised Blues' spirits.

They were rewarded with an 18th-minute equaliser when Clapham hammered a shot home after good build-up play between Heskey and Jarosik.

Boosted by the goal, Blues conspired to produce a good spell of football without being able to force United's defence to surrender another before the break.

Rooney had a relatively quiet first half and the England striker looked to make amends at the start of the second period when he made one of his trademark surging runs, only to fire just wide.

It was a warning to City of what lay in store and in the 53rd minute, Rooney struck.

The goal originated from the right where Alan Smith fed the ball into the middle for Rooney to take in his stride, before firing a low left-footed shot past Maik Taylor.

But Blues' defiant play could not be denied and three minutes after going on as a substitute, Pandiani was unmarked at the far post to calmly slot home only his second goal of the season.

It capped a tremendous fight back by Blues and certainly gave the beleaguered home fans some hope.