Birmingham City 0 Newcastle United 0: Rafa Benitez's side go seven points clear of Huddersfield

Jonjo Shelvey
Jonjo Shelvey
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Newcastle United were held to a goalless draw by Birmingham City at St Andrew's this afternoon.

The result saw Rafa Benitez's side go a point clear of Brighton and Hove Albion, who take on Leeds United at Elland Road this evening.

Newcastle also extended their lead over third-placed Huddersfield Town, beaten 4-0 by Bristol City at Ashton Gate last night, to seven points ahead of a two-week international break.

READ MORE: Rafa Benitez reveals why Chancel Mbemba hasn’t played for Newcastle this year

After a closely-fought first half, United went on to dominate the game after the break.

But goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak denied Daryl Murphy and Matt Ritchie.

Daryl Murphy, right

Daryl Murphy, right

Newcastle manager Benitez had been forced to name Jonjo Shelvey on the bench after the midfielder was left short of fitness by a bout of illness.

And Shelvey was joined on the bench by leading scorer Dwight Gayle.

Birmingham created several good first-half opportunities at St Andrew's, where United were backed by 3,229 fans.

Paul Dummett and Yoan Gouffran made important early blocks, and Lukas Jutkiewicz shot wide in the 27th minute.

Newcastle rallied late in the half and Ritchie had a goal disallowed for offside, though Benitez felt the strike should have stood.

Murphy had a shot deflected wide after the break, and the striker also forced a fine save from Kuszczak with a header.

Gayle caused problems for United when he replaced Muprhy.

And Shelvey was sent on for the last 12 minutes, and Kuszczak turned a low shot from Ritchie round his post before Christian Atsu was sent on by Benitez.

But United, for all their control, couldn't conjure up a late goal.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Darlow; Anita, Lascelles, Hanley, Dummett; Diame, Colback; Ritchie, Perez (Shelvey, 78), Gouffran (Atsu, 82); Murphy (Gayle, 63). Subs not used: Elliot, Gamez, Mbemba, Mitrovic.

BIRMINGHAM CITY: Kuszczak; Bielik, Shotton, Robinson; Nsue, Tesche, Kieftenbeld, Davis, Gardner (Gleeson, 90), Grounds; Jutkiewicz (Donaldson, 87). Subs not used: Legzdins, Adams, Maghoma, Frei, Dacres-Cogley.

Booking: Robinson 56

Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)

Attendance: 19,796 (3,229 Newcastle)

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