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Birmingham City 2 West Brom 3 - Report and pictures

By Joseph Masi | West Bromwich Albion | Published:

Two outstanding finishes from substitute Charlie Austin - combined with some managerial brilliance from Slaven Bilic - saw Albion beat Blues 3-2 in the derby.

The hosts led twice at St Andrew's with Lukas Jutkiewicz and Harlee Dean scoring either side of a Grady Diangana goal.

But with his side behind in the second-half, Bilic introduced Darnell Furlong and Austin in a move that saw them switch to a unique 3-5-2 system.

And it paid dividends with Austin pulling Albion level shortly after with a truly outstanding strike from 25 yards.

Incredibly, the Baggies then went on to win it, with Furlong sending in a cross which Austin nodded in.

And that sent the away fans delirious with the Baggies going onto see out the game relatively comfortably to claim all three points.

Report

As expected, Bilic restored Matheus Pereira, Diangana and Hal Robson-Kanu to his starting lineup for what was his first derby as Albon boss.

The trio, all rested for the midweek trip to Wigan, came back into the side with Kyle Edwards, Filip Krovinovic and Charlie Austin all returning to the bench.

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It meant the Baggies continued in their favoured 4-2-3-1 system with Robson-Kanu leading the line, Pereira in the number 10 role and Diangana and Matt Phillips out wide.

Blues also lined up in the same formation with Lukas Jutkiewicz as the lone striker.

Alvaro Gimenez operated just behind with Jude Bellingham on the left flank and Jeremie Bela on the right.

In what proved to be a frantic start to the match, the hosts opened the scoring after just three minutes.

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After initially seeing a corner cleared, Blues kept the move alive with Maxime Colin sending an inviting ball right into the danger area.

The delivery was begging to be nodded home - with Jutkiewicz duly obliging just six-yards from goal.

To the Baggies credit, they responded just six minutes later, with Bilic's side also scoring in the second-phase following a corner.

This time Pereira's delivery was cleared. But Phillips then drilled the ball across goal - with Diangana perfectly positioned at the back post to tap it home.

While continuing to have that fiery derby feel, the game settled down somewhat following the equaliser - with both teams working hard to keep the other at bay.

But as the clock ticked past the half-hour mark, Albion began to exert more control.

And they should have got their noses in front when Phillips robbed Geraldo Bajrami of possession and then charged towards goal.

With Diangana and Robson-Kanu in support, the Baggies were actually three on one.

But Phillips' pass - which should have put Diangana through - was behind the winger, with Blues then able to get defenders back and clear.

Bilic's side threatened again just moments later when Robson-Kanu flashed a header off target following a dangerous Phillips cross - with now feeling as though, Albion were getting up to speed.

But they were dealt a blow in the 40th minute when Diangana was forced to make way with a hamstring problem. Kyle Edwards replaced him on the left-wing.

And the stroke of half-time, Bilic's side had Sam Johnstone to thank for keeping them on terms.

A clever ball over the top from Bellingham got Kristian Pedersen in-behind the defence.

Just a few yards out, the Dane simply had to tuck the ball either side of the keeper to restore his side's lead.

But Johnstone made himself as big as possible with the keeper then blocking the full-backs shot with his legs.

Blues started the second-half exactly as they started the first - by scoring from a corner.

Bellingham's delivery was met by Dean who won the ball ahead of Conor Townsend.

And despite being around 10 yards out, the defender then saw his header fly past Johnstone and into the back of the net.

Albion again tried to respond instantly with Livermore firing over from the edge of the box.

But as the clock ticked past the hour mark, Albion were looking disjointed with their passing simply not crisp or accurate enough.

In a bid to change the pattern of the game, Bilic switched Darnell Furlong for Townsend and Charlie Austin for Phillips.

It was a move that effectively saw Albion play without a right-winger with Pereira moving inside and Furlong asked to bomb forward while Semi Ajayi covered.

And it proved an absolute masterstroke - with Austin then producing two outstanding finishes to turn the game completely on its head.

First, after being found by Livermore on the edge of the box, the striker swivelled on the edge of the box before lashing an unstoppable strike into the top corner from 20 yards.

Then eight minutes later, Austin nodded his side in front, with the striker meeting a perfect Furlong delivery from right.

Blues, to their credit, rallied from that point. David Davis saw a curled effort from the edge of the box stopped by Johnstone.

Bela then headed over after a long throw was flicked on.

But from that point, Bilic's side saw out the game expertly to claim a huge win and the derby spoils.

Teams

Blues (4-2-3-1): Trueman, Colin, Dean, Bajrami, Pedersen, Sunjic (McEachran 84), Davis, Bellingham (Gardner 74), Gimenez, Bela (Montero 84), Jutkiewicz.

Subs not used: Camp, Harding, Villalba, Maghoma.

Albion (4-2-3-1): Johnstone, Ferguson, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend (Furlong 61), Livermore, Sawyers, Phillips (Austin 70), Pereira, Diangana (Edwards 40), Robson-Kanu.

Subs not used: Bond, Hegazi, Barry, Krovinovic.

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

West Bromwich Albion reporter.

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