Match ends, Bournemouth 4, Birmingham City 2.
Bournemouth 4-2 Birmingham City
Bournemouth returned to the top of the Championship, coming from 2-0 down to win as Birmingham finished with 10 men.
Andrew Shinnie fed Clayton Donaldson to lob Birmingham in front, before David Cotterill fired in a low drive.
But Bournemouth hit back when Steve Cook bundled home Matt Ritchie's corner and Callum Wilson slotted home for 2-2.
Yann Kermorgant added a third from the spot after Wilson was fouled, Charlie Daniels crashed in a fourth and Blues skipper Paul Robinson saw red late on.
Bournemouth's Tommy Elphick and Harry Arter both hit the woodwork in the second half, while keeper Darren Randolph saved well from substitute Kenwyne Jones as the Cherries, in bright sunshine, briefly threatened to recapture the free-scoring form which saw them hammer Birmingham 8-0 at St Andrew's in October.
|Bournemouth's Championship run-in|
|Brighton (away, 10 April), Reading (away, 14 April), Sheff Wed (home, 18 April), Bolton (home, 27 April), Charlton (away, 2 May)|
Watford's win over previous leaders Middlesbrough at lunchtime had opened the door for Eddie Howe's side to top the pile again, but Birmingham, with a mid-table finish seemingly nailed on, looked set to rain on Bournemouth's Easter parade with two goals within three minutes.
Shinnie's hopeful-looking ball over the top set up for Donaldson, whose lob over Artur Boruc was inch-perfect.
No sooner were the visiting fans chanting "We want eight" when Bournemouth gifted Cotterill time and space down the right and he picked his spot with a low shot across the keeper.
Howe had described Bournemouth's equaliser at Ipswich on Friday, a header from a corner, as "un-Bournemouth-like" - and their first goal here was scrappy, as Elphick rose to meet Ritchie's corner but when his effort was blocked, a melee ensued and Cook was credited with the crucial touch.
Suddenly, normal service was resumed as a pass from Kermorgant played in strike partner Wilson, whose finish was slick.
The Kermorgant-Wilson partnership bore fruit again straight after the break when the Frenchman again sent Wilson through, and when Robinson hacked Wilson down near the byeline but escaped a card, Kermorgant made no mistake with a powerfully-struck penalty.
A fourth eventually arrived when substitute Adam Smith's shot was blocked and left-back Daniels lashed in from just outside the box.
|Cherries show home fight|
|Bournemouth fell behind for the first time in a home game this season when Donaldson netted|
Birmingham's - and Robinson's - miserable afternoon was completed when he felled Wilson as the pacey striker bore down on goal, and this time received a straight red card.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe: "Credit to Birmingham as they made it difficult for us.
"They're a tough team to beat, nothing we didn't expect but the key thing was that we stayed in the game, kept fighting and got those crucial goals before half-time.
"The crowd stayed with us, and our mental strength was key. We know we can beat anyone when we're at full pelt, and hopefully we can learn from this experience."
Birmingham manager Gary Rowett: "I said two or three months ago that Derby were probably the best team in the division, now I'd say Bournemouth probably are. They're probably the most complete team in the division as they work so hard for each other.
"At 2-0 after 35 minutes it was some of the best attacking play we've had since I've been here. We caused one of the best attacking sides in the league plenty of problems.
"But we've got to be stronger mentally and see the half out, rather than coming in at 2-2. That's the two sides to our team at the moment, we need to see those games out."
- 2FrancisBooked at 69mins
- 3S Cook
- 20FraserSubstituted forA Smithat 56'minutesBooked at 90mins
- 13C WilsonBooked at 55minsSubstituted forJonesat 88'minutes
- 18KermorgantSubstituted forPitmanat 87'minutes
- 15A Smith
- 4RobinsonBooked at 77mins
- 3GroundsBooked at 61mins
- 26DavisBooked at 28mins
- 22ShinnieSubstituted forThomasat 75'minutes
- 40DyerSubstituted forGrayat 69'minutes
- 9DonaldsonSubstituted forKiernanat 79'minutes
- Andy Woolmer
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Bournemouth 4, Birmingham City 2.
Foul by Brett Pitman (Bournemouth).
David Davis (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Bournemouth. Conceded by Michael Morrison.
Foul by Kenwyne Jones (Bournemouth).
Michael Morrison (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Bournemouth. Conceded by Darren Randolph.
Attempt saved. Kenwyne Jones (Bournemouth) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Charlie Daniels with a cross.
Adam Smith (Bournemouth) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Adam Smith (Bournemouth).
Demarai Gray (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Harry Arter (Bournemouth) hits the right post with a left footed shot from more than 35 yards. Assisted by Kenwyne Jones.
Corner, Bournemouth. Conceded by Jonathan Grounds.
Substitution, Bournemouth. Kenwyne Jones replaces Callum Wilson.
Substitution, Bournemouth. Brett Pitman replaces Yann Kermorgant.
Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Steve Cook.
Attempt blocked. Andrew Surman (Bournemouth) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Matt Ritchie.
Attempt saved. Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Harry Arter.
Attempt missed. Yann Kermorgant (Bournemouth) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high from a direct free kick.
Substitution, Birmingham City. Rob Kiernan replaces Clayton Donaldson.
Paul Robinson (Birmingham City) is shown the red card.
Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Paul Robinson (Birmingham City).
Substitution, Birmingham City. Wes Thomas replaces Andrew Shinnie.
Goal! Bournemouth 4, Birmingham City 2. Charlie Daniels (Bournemouth) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner.
Attempt blocked. Adam Smith (Bournemouth) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Adam Smith (Bournemouth) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Charlie Daniels.
Attempt missed. Steve Cook (Bournemouth) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Matt Ritchie with a cross following a set piece situation.
Matt Ritchie (Bournemouth) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by David Davis (Birmingham City).
Simon Francis (Bournemouth) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Simon Francis (Bournemouth).
Andrew Shinnie (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Substitution, Birmingham City. Demarai Gray replaces Lloyd Dyer.
Attempt missed. Yann Kermorgant (Bournemouth) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Matt Ritchie with a cross.
Adam Smith (Bournemouth) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jonathan Grounds (Birmingham City).
Attempt missed. David Cotterill (Birmingham City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.
Foul by Adam Smith (Bournemouth).