Scholes hits woodwork
United brought in Roy Carroll, Wes Brown and Paul Scholes in place of Fabien Barthez, John O'Shea and Ole Gunnar Solskjær and found Birmingham hard to break down. Scholes rattled the woodwork in the 42nd minute but Birmingham were deservedly level at the break.
Van Nistelrooij breakthrough
Ruud van Nistelrooij eventually broke the deadlock with his 26th goal of a prolific season in the 58th minute, turning brilliantly in the penalty area before striking a right-footed shot past Nico Vaesen. Birmingham could not muster a response and United held on to win with ease. The result sees Sir Alex Ferguson's side move on to 53 points, just three behind leaders and champions Arsenal. Both sides have played 26 games.
Leeds into fifth round
The night's other major game in England saw Leeds United AFC beat first division Gillingham FC 2-1 in an FA Cup fourth-round replay. With Alan Smith and Harry Kewell both out injured, Leeds pushed Eirik Bakke up front alongside Mark Viduka, who was sent off in the first encounter between the two sides.
Nevertheless, the partnership proved surpisingly fruitful. Bakke supplied a neat touch to tee up Viduka for a rasping volley after just eleven minutes which put Leeds ahead. Thirteen minutes after half-time Bakke got his head to an Ian Harte free-kick to double his side's advantage. Guy Ipoua hit a late consolation goal but it was Leeds who progressed to a fifth-round meeting with either Liverpool FC or Crystal Palace FC, who meet in a fourth-round replay tomorrow.
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