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Redmond shines as Birmingham tumble out

Birmingham City FC 1-0 NK Maribor
A Nathan Redmond-inspired Birmingham did their bit, but SC Braga's draw with Club Brugge KV ensured Chris Hughton's men finished third in Group H.

Adam Rooney celebrates heading in what proved to be the only goal
Adam Rooney celebrates heading in what proved to be the only goal ©Getty Images

Birmingham City FC did what was required of them, beating NK Maribor 1-0, but a draw in the other Group H fixture knocked the Blues out of the UEFA Europa League.

The hosts controlled the game from start to finish thanks to a man-of-the-match display from Nathan Redmond, and after taking the lead through Adam Rooney's 24th-minute header, they never looked back. It was ultimately not enough, though, as Club Brugge KV avoided defeat against already-qualified SC Braga.

Birmingham had to win and began with purpose, lively winger Redmond giving Arghus and Goran Cvijanovič a torrid time in the opening exchanges, albeit without an end product.

Maribor had the first chance on 19 minutes, when Jovan Vidovič outjumped Pablo Ibáñez but headed Dejan Mezga's corner just wide. It was a miss that the visitors would soon regret. Five minutes later Redmond again tricked his way past Arghus on the right, but this time the 17-year-old produced an inviting back-post cross which Rooney gratefully nodded in.

Maribor charged out of the blocks in the second half, and only a timely Ibáñez tackle prevented the visitors from drawing level. Birmingham soon picked up where they left off, though, with Jasmin Handanovič beating away a Redmond effort after the winger's one-two with Jonathan Spector.

Nikola Žigić nodded over and Rooney headed at Handanovič as Birmingham piled on the pressure − Redmond the unsurprising architect of both chances − and the youngster almost got the goal his performance deserved when he cracked a volley against a post with five minutes left.

Birmingham held on to end their campaign on a positive note, but news of a winning goal for Braga was not forthcoming, and the Blues joined fellow English club Tottenham Hotspur FC in being eliminated on ten points.