Steve Bruce said last night that leaping clear of the Premiership's bottom three for the first time since October was just the response he was looking for from Birmingham City.

In the wake of their FA Cup capitulation to Liverpool, some of the flak that has come the way of the Blues manager and his men has stung the dressing-room but he believed his players had answered their critics in the right way.

"We've been totally examined over the last couple of weeks," he said. "The turning point was the humiliation we felt two weeks ago. That was the worst night of my life and you're looking for a response from your players.

"It was not pretty at times here and there was not much football played but that's our second successive clean sheet. All credit to my players, who have put in a huge performance, not just on Saturday [a 0-0 draw with Chelsea] but more importantly tonight."

Bruce said of goalscorer Jiri Jarosik: "We asked him to play centrally as a result of the hamstring injuries we picked up to Stephen Clemence and Nicky Butt, for both of whom I fear the worst but Jiri responded brilliantly with a fantastic goal and his best all-round performance since he came here. It was the complete midfield performance."

Bolton boss Sam Allardyce said: "We had most of the game and, although I always felt we were going to get an equaliser, it just never came."