Birmingham manager Steve Bruce was dejected after his heroic goalkeeper Maik Taylor was beaten nine minutes from time by Arsenal's freak winner at Highbury.

Bruce had seen Taylor defy the Gunners with a first-half penalty stop from Robert Pires just two minutes after Blues captain Kenny Cunningham had been sent off for a foul on Freddie Ljungberg.

Not content with that, Taylor made seven outstanding saves - most from Arsenal's Spanish striker Jose Antonio Reyes - before he was cruelly undermined by Stephen Clemence's deflection on Robin van Persie's weak shot for the only goal of the game.

"Seven saves, was it?" asked Bruce. "I made it three or four were worldclass, but it all got spoiled in the end. The goalkeeper has produced a wonderful performance only to be beaten by a goal like that. "I thought that up to half-an-hour we were fractionally the better side. That changed in the second half - it was just the effect of the sending-off."

Bruce had no complaints with the decision to dismiss Cunningham. "We all know that the referee-was right, but I'm sure that really he just wanted to produce a yellow card. Under the directives he is given, he is not allowed to and that's the problem we have," he said.

"We take honesty to the extreme in the English Premiership. The referee is watched by two assessorsand he knows he will do himself no favours by using a bit of common sense.

"Nobody wants to see games ruined by players being sent off (on technicalities). The spectacle is ruined for the fans."

"We just had to try to last out for an hour and our goalkeeper had a wonderful game but there was no stopping that scrappy goal.

"We have come here today with eight players unavailable and an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old on the bench. It is bad enough facing Arsenal with 11 top players."