Report: Norwich City 2-2 Blues (4-2 on penalties)
Blues were beaten by Norwich City in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.
The Canaries, recently relegated from the Premier League, had been kept at arm's length, until two counters in first-half extra time from Danel Sinani and Jacob Sorensen gave them a cushion.
Although Birmingham City were not about to take their medicine and bit back twice to deservedly pull level. Jonathan Leko's fine solo run and finish, his first in competitive action, halved the arrears and an own goal sent the contest to penalties.
Each team missed their opener from 12 yards, but from then on a faultless record occurred for all but the unfortunate Leko - who had performed so well - meant Dean Smith's charges progressed.
The Head Coach made seven changes to the team that started the win over Huddersfield Town on Friday night. Marc Roberts wore the armband as Troy Deeney was not involved and there were full debuts for Josh Williams, Alfie Chang and Jobe Bellingham. Neil Etheridge, Jordan Graham, Jonathan Leko and Lukas Jutkiewicz made their first starts of the campaign.
It was a quiet start from both teams in NR1 and an early yellow card for Jutkiewicz was the only noteworthy point from a Blues perspective. Norwich then looked to seize some momentum but were off target through efforts from both Sinani and Gabriel Sara in quick succession.
This did lead to greater possession for the hosts, although it was Eustace's men who had the next opportunity. Jordan Graham hung up a corner from the right and Roberts wrestled himself space to make contact, spinning his header over.
Such a moment led to a promising spell around the half-hour mark. Jordan James was setting the agenda from midfield, looking to thread purposeful passes and after making a surging run forward, was just a controlled finish away from scoring his second senior goal.
Leko also had the same issue when he let fly soon after, but there was certainly no question regarding the intentions of the visitors.
However, Norwich had ideas of their own and from a fortuitously deflected cross took the lead in first-half stoppage time. Jordan Hugill's assisted delivery was headed in by Sinani and before the four additional minutes were up it was two.
There was though no fortune about this one. Little seemed on for Sorensen, but the Dane was able to find inch-perfect accuracy to curl the ball in from 25 yards out.
HALF-TIME: Norwich City 2-0 Blues
The away side, despite the deficit, continued to show intent after the break. It was just a shame that Leko's charge into the box was not matched by a wayward finish.
Instead, it proved to be a case of third-time lucky for the attacker. On this occasion, his fine forward run was rewarded as he caressed the ball to the side of Angus Gunn from the edge of the penalty box.
In response, Norwich almost pounced on some confusion in the Blues backline and Sinani hit the crossbar with a delicate chip before Roberts blocked a powerful Onel Hernandez half-volley moments later.
Approaching the final ten it appeared the away side's efforts would be for nothing but, after threatening from a set-piece in the first-half, they made one count. Substitute Sam Cosgrove made the initial contact ahead of the ball crossing the line for an own goal off the Canaries' Jonathan Tomkinson.
The turnaround sent the game into a hectic closing stage and each set of players gave it their utmost to avoid spot-kicks, but when Roberts' late header was held by Gunn there was no avoiding a shootout.
Kenny McClean missed the target entirely before Cosgrove had a low effort saved. Liam Gibbs converted high into the net and Graham matched him, sending Gunn the wrong way - as Sinani followed suit. Leko was then critically denied and Marcelino Nunez chipped home to give Norwich the advantage. James kept his nerve but Josh Sargent converted the evening's ninth and final attempt to knock a brave Blues team out.
Leko's maiden goal in royal blue well and truly turned the tide and had Norwich looking over the shoulders, ultimately setting Blues on course for the leveller.
Blues exit the competition in round one and will return to cup football when they enter the Emirates FA Cup in January.
Norwich City: Angus Gunn, Grant Hanley, Jordan Hugill (Josh Sargent 78), Kieran Dowell (Aaron Ramsey 64), Sam McCallum (Max Aarons 46), Gabriel Sara (Marcelino Nunez 64), Jacob Sorensen, Danel Sinani, Onel Hernandez (Kenny McLean, 77), Jonathan Tomkinson, Liam Gibbs.
Substitutes not used: Tim Krul, Andrew Omobamidele, Milot Rashica, Teemu Pukki.
Booking: Hugill 20.
Blues: Neil Etheridge, Maxime Colin (Tate Campbell 73), Marc Roberts (Captain), Auston Trusty, Josh Williams, Jobe Bellingham (Ryan Stirk, 63), Alfie Chang, Jordan James, Jordan Graham, Jonathan Leko, Lukas Jutkiewicz (Sam Cosgrove 63).
Substitutes not used: Zach Jeacock, George Friend, Ryan Woods, Juninho Bacuna, Scott Hogan.
Booking: Jutkiewicz 12, Colin 73.
Referee: Sam Barrott.