Birmingham City 5 Portsmouth 0

Suddenly, seemingly without warning, it looks as though it is all falling into place for Birmingham City. By the end, the supporters were chanting "we want six", as if to prove that greed is good.

Five was enough. Birmingham are still in the bottom three in the Premiership table but they no longer look, or play, like a team fighting against relegation.

How can they when they have Chris Sutton, making his home debut, in such fine form? How can they when they have Emile Heskey so impressive alongside him upfront?

How can they when Jer-maine Pennant looks like a man destined to be playing for England? How can they when even Mikael Forssell looks as though he is back to his best?

Afterwards, David Dunn, who scored the fifth goal, had it right: Birmingham have played better and lost but they now, at last, seem to have the knack of being able to kill teams off.

Portsmouth were willing victims. Rarely has a collection of talented individuals looked so unlike a team. They could have scored three goals in the first half but, by the end, were lucky to score nil.

But how different it might have been had Sutton not been in the team. Prior to this match, Birmingham were debilitated by nervousness. There were stories that bookmakers were no longer taking bets on Steve Bruce leaving his position as the manager of the club.

How ridiculous that now seems. Goals by Jiri Jarosik, Pennant, Matthew Upson, Forssell and Dunn confirmed a memorable victory.

"The addition of Chris has given everyone at the club a huge lift," Bruce said. "He was fantastic at Charlton last week and has played another major part against Portsmouth.

"You can see why he has been transferred for all those millions of pounds during his career. You can see why he has played at the top level for so long and why he has won championships in England and Scotland.

"Gordon Strachan was right when he told me Chris was as good as any centre-forward I would work with. After working with him for two weeks, I can understand why he said that."

If Sutton was the pivotal figure, Pennant was the most exciting. It was the winger who began the move, in the fifth minute, from which Jarosik scored the first goal.

His trickery on the right gave Mario Melchiot the chance to cross from the byline. Jarosik rose highest at the far post and his downward header opened the scoring.

Birmingham did not look completely comfortable after that - they could not contain Matthew Taylor, the Portsmouth midfield player, who gave Melchiot a particularly tough time - but the second goal effectively sealed the points.

After 38 minutes, Kenny Cunningham's long ball was flicked on by Heskey. Sutton's dummy allowed Pennant to sprint into the penalty area and stab the ball into the goal from close range.

The third goal, in the 53rd minute, came from Upson, who headed home at the far post after a cross by Pennant.

In the final minute, Noe Pamarot brought down Fors-sell, who scored himself from the penalty spot to register his first league goal of the season.

Then in injury-time, Sutton backheeled the ball into the path of Dunn whose clinical finish from inside the penalty area sealed a memorable day. Bruce's expression afterwards was one of humility rather than excitement. He knows there is still a lot of work to be done.

"I am convinced that if our players can stay fit, then we can get out of trouble," Bruce said.

"We had an horrific home record with just one point from the first seven games, but we've started to put that right and need to keep it going. This was a massive result, physiologically and in every possible way. Now we have to build on it."

Elsewhere, results went in Birmingham's favour. West Bromwich Albion lost 1-0 at home to bottom club Sunder-land, while Middlesbrough lost 3-2 to Wigan Athletic and are in freefall.

Birmingham have the players, and now the confidence, to secure their Premiership status. They are in the bottom three because, on past form, they deserve to be there.

But that was in the days before Sutton. That was in the days before Forssell was fit. That was when Pennant seemed to have taken a step backwards. That was when Heskey seemed isolated. So much has changed since then.

There are still concerns, of course. The centre of midfield is not as solid as it used to be, so while the team are better going forward, they are perhaps more vulnerable at the back.

It will make matches involving Birmingham more exciting to watch, but it might add to the nervousness that has encircled St Andrew's for the the best part of two years.

But if you can afford to have Dunn and Forssell on the substitutes' bench, you know there is good reason to be optimistic.

"An important thing for us is that all the big players, like Mario Melchiot, David Dunn, Muzzy Izzet and Mikael Fors-sell, are fit again," Bruce said. "It is no magic wand that we have waved. It is just that those type of players have become available again.

"If you looked at our bench, it was really strong and that makes a massive difference."

Indeed it does, but that was nothing compared to the joy aroused from this fine victory.