Often Partisan

Do You Remember When… Forssell Scored a Perfect Hat-trick?

If there is one player whose Blues career I wish had ended on a happier note, it would have to be Mikael Forssell. In his pomp there were few strikers in the Premiership let alone at Blues who could compete with his predator-like instincts in front of goal; Miklu’s quick “ninja feet” were a sight to behold and it was that brilliant close control that helped him score nineteen goals for us in the 2003/4 season. However, by 2008 his knees had already fallen to pieces and he wasn’t the same player – even though he was top scorer for Blues in the 07/08 season.

Nearly four months had passed on since the events of the last article in this series and in that time Blues had played thirteen games, winning just one of them. It was March 2008 and Blues hadn’t won a game that year, relegation was looking like an ominous probability and they couldn’t score enough goals. Spurs came to St Andrews having won the league cup the week before and were looking to avenge the 3-2 home defeat to McLeish’s men.

McLeish handed Forssell only his third start in eight games that calendar year hoping that the Finn would bring some much-needed goals to the Blues lineup despite Forse having not scored since the last time Blues had won, a 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough on Boxing Day. Of those two previous starts, he only got three minutes against Arsenal the previous week before he’d been sacrificed in the wake of Martin Taylor’s sending off for that challenge on Eduardo. Spurs came to St Andrews with a patched up defence missing the perennially injured Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate, with Pascal Chimbonda and Younes Kaboul (who’d had a bit of a mare in the reverse fixture) taking on the centre-half positions.

Seven minutes in, Blues were ahead. Liam Ridgewell’s header from a corner was going wide but James McFadden swung a boot and put it back into the mixer where Forssell was quick enough to direct it with his head into the bottom left corner of the net whilst Paul Robinson could only watch.

Spurs came back hard and probably should have equalised; O’Hara just missing with one drive, Berbatov hitting the post with another before Ridgewell scrambled a Malbranque shot clear in the six yard box.

Like the game at White Hart Lane, Blues went in at half-time 1-0 up but this time they were the ones to score after half time. McFadden tested Robinson with a long range effort before a McSheffrey ball found Forsell in the middle and Robinson had to be alert to turn the Finn’s shot over.

Blues made it 2-0 from a Seb Larsson free kick after David Murphy was hauled down by Didier Zokora. Larsson bent the ball over the wall and into the corner with Robinson well beaten.

Four minutes later it was 3-0; Larsson crossed it into the middle, Chimbonda in trying to keep it away from McFadden hit it towards his own goal where Robinson had to tip it away and Forssell running in from the right hand side of the box lashed it home before McFadden had a chance to screw it up.

Nine minutes from time McFadden played Forssell in on the left side of the box and Mikael coolly completed his hat-trick, slotting the ball under Robinson with his left foot to make it a perfect three goal haul (head, right foot, left foot).

Jermaine Jenas got one back in injury time but who cared – a 4-1 win at home, the first double over Spurs in 32 years and maybe Blues were back on the trail to staying up. Alas, as you know it wasn’t to be; Blues won just two more of their remaining ten fixtures (and one of those a 4-1 dead rubber over Blackburn on the last game of the season). But for that day, staying up was just possible and I’ll bet McLeish went home wishing he could play Spurs every week.


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