Skip to main content

Birmingham head coach Aitor Karanka hails Jeremie Bela’s response

Birmingham v Rotherham United – Sky Bet Championship – St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Birmingham head coach Aitor Karanka praised the character of Jeremie Bela after he went from penalty villain to spot-kick hero to earn his side a 1-1 draw against Rotherham at St Andrew’s.

Bela conceded the 87th-minute penalty scored by Millers substitute Kieran Sadlier but three minutes later was on the spot to coolly convert from 12 yards after substitute Jon Toral was pushed in the box.

Confirming the Angolan winger is Blues’ designated penalty taker, Karanka said: “He showed personality which I think is good.

“After giving away a penalty, three minutes later, we had a penalty and he was the first one to want to take it.

“He knew he was responsible and he was happy to take the penalty. He showed us personality and after that, he had a chance to win the game.

“Sometimes you can feel that players such as Harlee (Dean, captain), Kristian (Pedersen) or Ivan (Sunjic) have personality, but today he showed he is one of them.

“It was a difficult decision even when he knows he’s responsible for taking the penalties.

“Other players would have looked towards the side or would have missed the penalty.”

Regarding the award of the penalties, Karanka added: “I have no complaints about them.”

Karanka admitted Blues wasted the first half after being the better side following the first 20 minutes and had several chances to win it.

“In the second half we had a lot more chances than them but I told the players at half-time that we wasted the first 45 minutes,” he said.

“I think in the first half we didn’t play in the way we should play.”

Rotherham boss Paul Warne had no complaints about the spot-kicks.

He said: “They are both penalties. It was disappointing but the one we got, it seemed more of a penalty whereas the one we gave away was a little bit more disappointing because he (Jon Toral) wasn’t really going anywhere.”

Warne was delighted with his side’s display on the road.

He added: “On the whole I was really proud. We didn’t come here to defend. We came here to try to win and we just didn’t do enough.

“We had a couple of deflected shots which I thought might loop in past their keeper but I obviously didn’t rub the right genie this morning!

“I thought Birmingham defended really well. Hopefully sooner or later we can give someone a good crack (beating).

“At 90 minutes for us to throw away two points is hugely disappointing but if you had offered me a point after 75, I would probably have taken it because they were in the ascendancy.

“I thought it was two good teams who went at it hammer and tongs.

“Sitting behind the ball just isn’t in our nature so we did have a lot of attempts on goal and they came from some play.”