Gritty Birmingham hold Chelsea

Gritty Birmingham hold Chelsea

Daniel Sturridge headed in the equaliser as Chelsea drew 1-1 with Birmingham City on Saturday to force a replay of their FA Cup fifth-round encounter after a performance that did nothing to alleviate the pressure on manager Andre Villas-Boas.

headed in Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge (right) scores during their FA Cup fifth round match against Birmingham City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. AFPThe well-organised Championship (second division) visitors had taken a 20th-minute lead through Danny Murphy before their top-flight opponents pulled one back with Sturridge's goal midway thro­ugh the second half.

Chelsea had squandered an earlier chance to level straight after Murphy's opener when Juan Mata's penalty was well saved by diving Birmingham keeper Colin Doyle and home fans expressed their unhappiness by chanting ex-manager Jose Mourinho's name. 

Chelsea went into the match at Stamford Bridge on the back of a poor run of form in the league, where they have won just two of their last 10 games, and they came out of it to a chorus of boos from home fans.

They looked second best against a spirited Birmingham right from the start and were punished when Murphy thumped in the ball from a Nathan Redmond corner.

Chelsea should have levelled less than two minutes later when Ramires was brought down by a clumsy challenge from Wade Elliott and referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot.

Mata stepped up to take the penalty but his low effort was palmed away on to the post by the excellent Doyle. The Birmingham keeper was the hero again when he tipped over David Luiz's well struck free kick 10 minutes later, while Sturridge went just over the bar with a long-range drive shortly before the break.

Sturridge headed in from Branislav Ivanovic's good cross from the right on 62 minutes.