Karanka ‘very proud’ of Blues’ defensive effort despite defeat at City but unhappy about red card

Birmingham City manager Aitor Karanka has words with fourth official Gavin Ward during his team's 1-

Birmingham City manager Aitor Karanka has words with fourth official Gavin Ward during his team's 1-0 loss at Carrow Road Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Birmingham boss Aitor Karanka was feeling hard done by after defeat at Norwich but still felt ‘very proud’ of his team’s defensive efforts at Carrow Road.

The Blues have made a solid but unspectacular start to the season since the former Boro boss took over, losing their first game on Saturday when a penalty made the difference in a 1-0 home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

They set up to thwart Norwich in a 5-4-1 formation and were close to leaving the totally dominant hosts frustrated on Tuesday, only for substitute Mario Vrancic to score a winner in the 87th minute, barely a minute after midfielder Adam Clayton had been sent off for a second yellow card - and with striker Scott Hogan being robbed of possession by City midfielder Lukas Rupp ahead of the goal.

“I feel very sorry for my players after that,” Karanka told the Press Association. “They are exhausted after putting in a lot of hard work and frustrated after seeing another big decision go against them. On Saturday it was the penalty and tonight it was the red card.

“They were just two fouls from Adam Clayton, nothing more, and he has picked up two yellow cards. Then when we are trying to reorganise with 10 men Norwich get their goal.

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“I can’t criticise my players after that - in fact I am very proud of them. We had a number of players unavailable and had to go into the game with a new shape against a very good team who were in the Premier League last season.

“We defended very well and it was very disappointing to lose it in the end.”

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The Canaries had 73 percent of possession and 23 shots at goal, to build on a 2-1 win at Rotherham and Saturday and enjoy a first home victory since February.

Birmingham are without a victory in five games since winning their opener against Brentford but Karanka is confident the tide will turn.

Karanka added: “It is still very early in the season but we brought in 11 new players in the close season, some of whom weren’t available to us tonight, and it will take time for everyone to settle in.

“We have only just started - and I am sure results will improve.”

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