Norwich City 1, Birmingham 0

Darren Huckerby’s magical second half strike derailed Birmingham’s Championship title push in this high octane Carrow Road duel. City’s flying wide man blitzed through the back pedalling Blues rearguard on a 45-yard burst before crashing an unstoppable right footer past Michael Doyle.

Darren Huckerby's magical second half strike derailed Birmingham's Championship title push in Tuesday night's high octane Carrow Road duel.

City's flying wide man blitzed through the back pedalling Blues rearguard on a 45-yard burst before crashing an unstoppable right footer past Michael Doyle.

Huckerby's understated one handed salute in front of the Barclay faithful barely did justice to the sublime goal - his 11th of a productive campaign completing a memorable league double for Peter Grant's resurgent outfit.

The miserly Blues arrived on the back of four clean sheets but Steve Bruce's table toppers failed to live up to their pre-match billing until a desperate late grandstand finish.

Huckerby's mesmeric finish finally banished any lingering relegation fears after Grant's wake up call following City's Cardiff defeat.

Grant kept an unchanged line up from Saturday's Ninian Park reverse. Dion Dublin was again forced to settle for a start on the bench as Grant paired Chris Martin and Huckerby in attack. Luke Chadwick made a welcome return to the squad in place of Jurgen Colin.

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Bruce went for the combative midfield presence of club captain Damien Johnson in place of the suspended Gary McSheffrey. Former Bolton man Raidi Jaidi partnered Martin Taylor at the heart of the visitors' defence with Bruno N'Gotty a surprise late omission from the squad that beat Derby in.

Birmingham's young Gunner Fabrice Muamba drilled the first shot in anger wide in an early bout of sparring.

Simon Lappin's raking crossfield ball teed up Huckerby to force a home corner - Dickson Etuhu's angled cut back flashing across the Blues' box with Gary Doherty straining to apply a decisive touch six yards out.

Tony Warner coolly plucked Johnson's hanging cross off the head of Nicklas Bendtner. Doherty's crunching tackle sat Rowan Vine on the turf but Lee Croft failed to control his heavy pass.

City's wide man smacked a stinging half volley at Martin Taylor seconds later.

Blues' stopper Doyle went full length to push away Youssef Safri's goalbound 25 yard free kick after Stephen Kelly had clambered over Huckerby.

Vine out muscled Croft but Doherty sensed the danger - Sebastian Larsson's aimless centre relieving the pressure.

Martin's tenacity won a throw deep in enemy territory which strike partner Huckerby turned into a corner with a driving run at Jaidi but Doyle plucked Lappin's deep cross out of the sky.

Adam Drury stuck to his guns to block Vine after the former Luton man twisted and turned his way into a shooting position.

Muamba earned a lecture from referee Booth after upending Huckerby on a threatening counter. Martin should have snaffled his sixth senior goal 20 minutes in. The youngster's cushioned sidefoot from 16 yards flew over after Andy Hughes' long punt picked out the unmarked striker.

Croft's sublime turn freed the overlapping Hughes who found Martin again but Jaidi bravely threw himself at the teenager's piledriver.

Huckerby summed up City's appetite for the battle with a burst across the Blues' box to cut out Matt Sadler's intended clearance.

The dangerous Bendtner let fly but his right footer slammed the hoardings after referee Booth waved play on for Doherty's clattering challenge through the back of Vine during the build up.

Vine's penetrating run fashioned the Blues' first shot on target just past the half hour but Warner dropped to his knees for a regulation stop.

Etuhu's sliding block dropped invitingly for Bendtner but the Arsenal striker dragged his angled effort across Warner as the stuttering leaders finally moved through the gears.

Jaidi's towering header from Larsson's corner flew off target before Bendtner's ambitious rising effort threatened to take out the scoreboard.

Croft broke the visiting stranglehold with a first time ball for Huckerby to gallop clear but Martin Taylor was out sharply to smother Croft's right footer.

Bruce withdrew a limping Vine shortly before the break but England U21 starlet Cameron Jerome emerged from the away dugout - Birmingham's embarrassment of riches plain for all to see.

Huckerby lit the green and yellow touchpaper 90 seconds after the restart with a rocket right footer past the grasping Doyle from 18 yards to break the deadlock. City's flyer burst from deep inside his own half to slalom past four retreating Blues' defenders before pulling the trigger.

Jerome spurned the chance to drag Birmingham back into the contest on 52 minutes - wriggling clear but pulling his left footer into the side netting after Sadler's piercing pass.

Bruce played his second attacking card when Finnish hitman Mikael Forssell replaced midfield grafter Muamba to form a three-pronged attack.

Johnson crumpled under Jason Shackell's shove on the edge of the box but referee Booth was unimpressed.

Sadler's vital back post touch denied the marauding Etuhu from Safri's curling free kick - Huckerby inadvertently heading Lappin's corner away inside the Blues' crowded six yard box.

Jerome's wild hack behind left Bruce rubbing his furrowed brow as the toothless visitors struggled without main creative spark McSheffrey.

Bendtner's crunching aerial challenge on Drury gave Grant the chance for a mini huddle while the skipper gingerly picked himself up.

Lappin's fizzing 25 yard yarder was inches wide of Doyle's left hand upright on 66 minutes as Norwich probed for a killer second.

Huckerby tumbled twice within a minute but referee Booth had little sympathy for the goalscorer.

Safri launched himself at Clemence's hit with the hosts' upping their workrate to keep the visitors at bay.

Martin cut inside Taylor but fired straight at Doyle - the youngster's last contribution before exiting to a standing ovation for Dublin's calming influence.

Larsson's woeful right foot effort flew well over with Bruce's side appearing to run out of ideas.

Grant introduced Chadwick for a belated home debut and the blond wideman almost marked his arrival in 'Roy of the Rovers' fashion with a stopping header hacked clear.

Etuhu threw his muscular frame at Johnson's ferocious strike with the Blues' pushing for a late lifeline.

Huckerby earned a warm embrace from his gaffer after making way for Mark Fotheringham with a minute left.

Doherty's lunging block shut the door on Forssell after Jerome picked a way through the packed home ranks before Hughes hacked clear at City's near post in a frantic finale.

Dublin was now re-deployed in a defensive three as every home free kick awarded raised the Carrow Road roof before the final whistle triggered the biggest roar of the night.