John Kirovski’s first goal for Birmingham City saw Steve Bruce’s side take all three points from a fiery encounter in Shepherd’s Bush this afternoon.

The American striker buried a splendid strike seven minutes into the contest – firing home from the edge of the area after a lovely one-two with Clinton Morrison. He bent a brilliant finish around Edwin van der Sar and it was a goal worthy of winning any game, even if Fulham’s sleepy defending left plenty to be desired.

Fulham were fitful in response. Their best chances fell to French midfielder Sylvain Legwinski, who somehow failed to hit the target in stoppage time from six yards, firing the clearest opportunity from the game into the Loft. The former Monaco man had also spurned a good opening shortly after Kirovski’s superb strike – shooting over the bar after producing an admirable bit of control to latch onto a forward ball from Sean Davis.

The defensive midfielder was quickly becoming Fulham’s most likely avenue towards an equaliser but he failed to reach a Luis Boa Morte through ball ahead of onrushing Blues goalkeeper Nico Vaesen having initially looked like the favourite to win the footrace. Tigana’s continuation with the experimental front two of Boa Morte and Steed Malbranque in the absence of four injured first-time centre forwards wasn’t as successful as in last week’s win over Leeds.

Birmingham’s defending was dogged and disciplined with the back four brilliantly shielded by Allou Cisse and Robbie Savage in the away outfit’s engine room. Legwinski must have realised it was unlikely to be his day when his header was scrambled off the line by Darren Purse right at the end of the first half.

Tigana sent on Junichi Inamoto at the start of the second half in a bid to add more creativity to Fulham’s midfield, but the Japanese midfielder lasted only seven minutes before succumbing to an Achilles problem. Morrison might have added a second goal midway through the second period when he surged infield from the right wing, breaking through the porous Fulham rearguard only to be foiled by the feet of van der Sar.

Fulham’s hopes of a comeback were boosted when Purse was shown a second yellow card with twenty minutes remaining, but Tigana’s men failed to make their numerical advantage pay. Legwinski lashed their clearest opening over the bar in added time on a frustrating afternoon for the Whites.

FULHAM (4-4-2): van der Sar; Finnan, Brevett, Melville (Clark 66), Goma; Davis, Djetou, Legwinski, Wome (Inamoto 45; Willock 52); Malbranque, Boa Morte. Subs (not used): Taylor, Goldbaek.

BOOKED: Brevett, Malbranque, Clark.

BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-3-3): Vaesen, Tebily, Purse, Cunningham, Kenna; D. Johnson (Woodhouse 75), Savage, Cisse; Morrison, Horsfield (B. Hughes 80), Kirovski (Powell 73). Subs (not used): Bennett, Fagan.

BOOKED: Tebily, Purse, Cisse, D. Johnson, Kirovski, Horsfield, Powell.

SENT OFF: Purse.

REFEREE: Andy D’Urso (Essex).