Stoke progress after penalty thriller
Brave 10-man Birmingham fall at final hurdle
A dejected Callum Reilly of Birmingham after missing a penalty during the League Cup Fourth Round against Stoke City at St Andrews Stadium. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Stoke progressed into the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup as they saw off brave 10-man Birmingham on penalties following an incredible 4-4 thriller at St Andrew’s.
It is only the third time the Potters have made the last eight of the competition since winning the League Cup back in 1972, the sole major honour in the club’s 150-year history.
Stoke had looked set for 3-1 victory until Blues substitute Peter Lovenkrands scored twice late on amid a stunning finale to send the majority of the 13,436 present into raptures.
It was a plucky response from the hosts having controversially seen Wade Elliott dismissed amid a mass melee on the stroke of half-time for an apparent elbow on Oussama Assaidi, who was accused of making the most of the contact.
It was the Moroccan winger who put the visitors on their way as he drilled into the top corner from 30 yards before Tom Adeyemi levelled for Blues and ensured the cup tie was a real contest heading towards the interval.
But, out of nowhere, Birmingham forced extra-time only to be undone by Stoke substitute Kenwyne Jones just four minutes into matters.
Once again, amazingly, the home side managed to level once more late on courtesy of Olly Lee to send the game to penalties. Steven N’Zonzi duly netted the winning spot-kick in a 4-2 triumph as the Staffordshire outfit, struggling and winless in the Barclays Premier League since late August, finally prevailed.
It was a mightily relieved Stoke manager Mark Hughes who celebrated the full-time whistle three days ahead of his 50th birthday.