Riots mar Blues cup win

BIRMINGHAM (2) vs ASTON VILLA (1)

BIRMINGHAM are through to the Carling Cup semi-final after edging out local rivals Aston Villa at St Andrews, but victory was marred by scenes of fan violence which are set to be investigated by the Football Association.

With Prince William and Prime Minister David Cameron over in Zurich attempting one final push to convince Fifa’s ExCo members that England’s 2018 World Cup bid would offer a fan-friendly experience, the timing of the hundreds of fans who confronted riot police at the final whistle could not have been worse.

The FA were swift in releasing a statement last night which read: “The FA will fully investigate the matter in conjunction with the appropriate authorities. The FA abhors acts of violent behaviour.”

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish admitted that the disgraceful scenes threatened to drag English football “back to the dark ages” but was confident the events of last night would not impact on the World Cup ballot which takes place this afternoon.

He said: “I don’t think that will affect the World Cup bid. Let’s hope England get it because they deserve it, [but] it doesn’t look good. It takes us back to the dark ages.”

The game itself was a lively affair with Birmingham taking the lead through a Sebastien Larsson penalty, which was cancelled out on the half hour by Gabriel Agbonlahor. The match was drifting towards extra-time, but Nicola Zigic’s scrappy 84th minute effort booked the Blues a place in their first league cup semi-final for nine years.