Birmingham 1-0 Leeds: Lukas Jutkiewicz’s late penalty wins it for Blues as part-owner Tom Brady watches from the stands
Tom Brady made a surprise appearance in a Birmingham pub before the game and until the very last minute here, the Blues’ new co-owner probably wished he’d stayed there all afternoon.
The NFL great, a seven-time Super Bowl winner, invested in Birmingham last month and greeted Blues supporters at The Roost, a stone’s throw from St Andrew’s, hours before kick-off.
It seemed to everyone that Brady’s first experience with English football would end in a 0-0 draw. Daniel James then slotted Ethan Laird into the box and, seconds after coming on as a substitute, Lukas Jutkiewicz fired the penalty past goalkeeper Illan Meslier. From his spot in the directors’ box, Brady smiled and hugged his fellow full-time board members.
Leeds desperately need the transfer window to close. Fans have expressed their anger at Wilfried Gnonto, who was not on the team as he looks to walk away. Luis Sinisterra was another of those who did not travel, while Crysencio Summerville, also a winger, was lost due to injury. Tyler Adams is another outfit to split.
Joined by chairman Tom Wagner, Brady took his seat shortly before kickoff and looked every inch the superstar, wearing sunglasses despite the gray skies over Second City.
Lukas Jutkiewicz converted from the spot in stoppage time to win for Birmingham vs Leeds
The Championship clash at St Andrew’s looked destined to end in a draw after a lack of chances.
Birmingham co-owner and NFL legend Tom Brady watched from the stands for the first time
If only I could have sprinkled a little stardust on this match. After relegation last season, Leeds were expected to be among the top contenders for promotion and there is more optimism in the Blues too, after the change of ownership and subsequent investment in the team.
MATCH DATA AND CLASSIFICATIONS
Birmingham (4-2-3-1): ruddy 6; Laird 6.5, Sanderson 7.5, Long 7, Buchanan 6.5; Bielik 6.5, Sunjic 6; Anderson 5 (Miyoshi 65min, 6), Bacuna 6.5 (James 88), Dembele 7 (Longelo 90+4); Hogan 5 (Jutkiewicz 88)
Substitutes (unused): Etheridge, Williams, Chang, Cosgrove, Williams,
Leeds (4-2-3-1): messier 6; Ayling 5.5, Cresswell 7, Struijk 7, Byram 6; Gray 7, Ampadu 7; Shackleton 6 (Rodon 90+2), Poveda 6, James 5; Gelhardt 6 (Rutter 67).
Reserved: Ampadu, Byram
Substitutes (unused): Klaesson, Darlow, Gyabi, Bate, Hjelde, Drameh.
Referee: Tim Robinson (West Sussex) 6
However, if Brady was looking for entertainment, he would have been disappointed. The Blues paid a moving tribute to their own local hero, Trevor Francis, who passed away on July 24. Francis also received a round of applause in the eighth minute, a nod to the number he wore for his boyhood club.
There was no one remotely in Francis’ class on either side here. Daniel James looked brilliant for the visitors from the start, but his final pass let him down. Leeds youngster Archie Gray produced another promising midfield display and both sides looked solid off the ball, although there was desperately little attacking spark.
James’ volley to the far post on 10 minutes was blocked by Blues centre-backs Dion Sanderson and Kevin Long, and at the other end Juninho Bacuna’s backheel sent Ethan Laird through, with Ethan Ampadu making a vital interception to cut the ball. center.
Neither goalie had much to do beyond claiming high balls and set pieces in a hopelessly dull first period.
The second half wasn’t much better, although there were at least a couple of chances. Leeds substitute Georginio Rutter’s goal-scoring effort was blocked by Krystian Bielik and, at the other end, the long unmarked somehow headed Bacuna’s corner wide. Then it was Leeds’ turn to close in when Sam Byram headed in near the post from inches away.
Moments later, Blues winger Siriki Dembele’s curler was heading for the top corner before he went wide and his team-mate Scott Hogan volleyed in from close range.
And just when it looked like both sides would take a point, James effectively handed the points to the Blues with a ridiculous challenge to Laird. Jutkiewicz’s penalty was poor and straight at Illan Meslier, but luck was on his side as the ball struck Meslier’s foot and bounced off the net.
Jutkiewicz came off the bench to secure the Blues’ first win of the Championship season