Birmingham 0 Newcastle 2: Mags just two points behind Sunderland

Leon Best scored Newcastle's second goal at Birmingham.
Leon Best scored Newcastle's second goal at Birmingham.
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NEWCASTLE claimed their first win since the sale of Andy Carroll as goals from Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best sealed victory at Birmingham.

The Geordies are now just two points and two places behind seventh-placed neighbours Sunderland.

Lovenkrands opened the scoring after four minutes and then Best struck early in the second period to wrap up the points for the Magpies.

Birmingham enjoyed a fair share of possession but lacked a cutting edge as they suffered their first defeat in six games.

Newcastle had picked up only two points from three games since Carroll's £35million departure to Liverpool on the final day of the January transfer window.

But they looked the more threatening throughout the 90 minutes with Jose Enrique surging forward from left-back to good effect.

They were well marshalled in midfield from skipper Kevin Nolan and were a constant threat on the counter-attack.

Nikola Zigic, who had scored in the previous three games, posed the biggest threat for the home side.

Newcastle got off to a dream start in the rainswept conditions with Lovenkrands putting them ahead after only two minutes. Enrique's original cross was cleared after he had skipped past Sebastian Larsson but Jonas Gutierrez pounced on the loose ball and delivered a testing low centre to the near post.

Lovenkrands was first to react to register his fourth goal of the campaign.

Midfielder Craig Gardner came close to equalising five minutes before the interval, driving a 20-yard drive just wide.

But Newcastle doubled their lead four minutes into the second half through Best's fifth goal of the season, the striking meeting Jonas Gutierrez’s left-wing cross to head home.

Zigic had a great chance to reduce the arrears but headed over from Ridgewell's pinpoint cross when unmarked.