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Birmingham comeback floors Maribor

NK Maribor 1-2 Birmingham City FC
Second-half goals by Chris Burke and Wade Elliott helped Chris Hughton's men come from behind to secure a first Group H victory in Slovenia.

Chris Burke celebrates after scoring Birmingham's equaliser against Maribor
Chris Burke celebrates after scoring Birmingham's equaliser against Maribor ©Getty Images

Birmingham City FC earned their first UEFA Europa League victory after coming from behind to stun Darko Milanič's side with a 2-1 Group H win in Slovenia.

The visitors turned in an impressive second-half display after falling behind to Dalibor Volaš's 29th-minute strike – the result of a goalkeeping error by Colin Doyle – with goals by the impressive Chris Burke and Wade Elliott.

Maribor had not lost a home match in European competition for six matches and, to begin with, it was easy to see why. The Slovenian champions surged forward with purpose from the start, Aleš Mertelj sending a powerful free-kick wide after just two minutes and Marcos missing the target from 15 metres.

The skilful Marcos then picked out Goran Cvijanovič, whose goalbound header was superbly saved by Doyle. Birmingham had only threatened from set pieces, Liam Ridgewell's header comfortably held by Jasmin Handanović, although Marlon King almost embarrassed the goalkeeper with an ambitious long-range effort.

If Handanović's blushes were spared, those of his opposite number were not, on 29 minutes, when Doyle missed his kick while attempting to clear Jonathan Spector's back pass, presenting Volaš with a simple goal. But the opening strike stirred the visitors into life and Burke served notice of what was to follow with drives either side of half-time which were respectively saved by Handanović and blocked by Martin Milec.

There was no stopping Burke on 64 minutes, however, as he latched on to King's pass, tricked his way around Milec, and sent a left-footed shot past Handanović. Now Birmingham were in full flow and might have scored through Nikola Žigić and Elliot, the striker heading over from close range, while the midfielder was denied by Handanović when clean through. But Elliott made amends 11 minutes from time, hitting a volley that squirmed under the despairing Handanović.

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