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Birmingham, Ipswich Advance to English League Cup Semifinals

Birmingham and Ipswich won home games to advance to the semifinals of English soccer’s League Cup.

Birmingham beat Aston Villa, last season’s runner up, 2-1, while Ipswich of the second-division Championship beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0. The two join Arsenal and West Ham in the final four of England’s second-tier club competition.

Nikola Zigic’s goal in the 85th minute gave Birmingham the win over local rival Villa.

Birmingham took a 1-0 lead on Sebastian Larsson’s 12th-minute penalty kick after Lee Bowyer was taken down by Richard Dunne. Villa tied the game in the 30th minute on a goal from Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Zigic got the winner with five minutes remaining with a shot that deflected off a defender over lunging Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

Ipswich, which is 16th in the Championship, is the lone team from outside the top flight left in the competition following its win over West Brom.

Grant Leadbitter scored the only goal with a penalty kick in the 69th minute after Graham Dorrans brought down Carlos Edwards.

Birmingham will next face West Ham, which last night beat defending champion Manchester United 4-0. Ipswich will face Arsenal, which beat Wigan 2-0. The two-match semifinals will be played the weeks of Jan. 10 and 24.

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