West Brom dramatically snatched three points from Birmingham City as a Charlie Austin brace ensured Albion returned to winning ways at St Andrew’s with a 3-2 win.
It was a tough start to the game for the Baggies as they found themselves 1-0 down in the opening three minutes, with Lukas Jutkiewicz heading past Sam Johnstone from Maxime Colin’s fantastic delivery.
However, within six minutes, Slaven Bilic’s men were level. From a poor Matheus Pereira corner, Jake Livermore nicked in to win the ball in the penalty area, which went out wide to Matt Phillips, who drove the ball through the penalty area and it was blasted in from close range by Grady Diangana.
A couple of minutes into the second half, Harlee Dean put the Blues back in front as he headed the ball into the far corner of the net, from Jude Bellingham’s corner.
Charlie Austin then produced a moment of brilliance as he smashed the ball into the top corner from 25 yards out to send the Albion fans behind the goal wild.
He then put Albion in front with nine minutes to go as he headed in brilliantly from Darnell Furlong’s clipped cross to give Albion a crucial three points and extend their lead from the play offs in the automatic promotion places.
Here’s how we rated the West Brom players in their 3-2 win.
Sam Johnstone - 6
Made a couple of decent saves to deny Birmingham extending their lead in the first half and equalising in the second half. Will be disappointed to be beaten from Dean’s header though. Distribution not as pin-point as it has been recently.
Nathan Ferguson - 6
Ferguson was making an effort to get up the left side to cause problems all game. Stood his ground defensively too to help Albion get a crucial win.
Semi Ajayi - 5
He shaky all game struggling to deal with the physicality that Jutkiewicz possessed. Misplaced a few passes and will be aiming to put it right next week.
Kyle Bartley - 6
Was the more composed centre back today dealing with most of what Birmingham threw at him. He was out of position to mark Jutkiewicz but apart from that, he was solid.
Conor Townsend - 4 (subbed off 61')
Townsend was very poor today. Misplaced a fair few passes and was outjumped by Harlee Dean for Birmingham’s second goal.
Romaine Sawyers - 6
Sawyers looked as composed on the ball as ever. Passing wasn’t as sharp in some moments of the second half but he kept the midfield ticking nicely to see out Albion’s win.
Jake Livermore - 5
Livermore wasn’t at his best today, with most of his passes overhit when trying to slip the attack through. Looked tired towards the end of the second half but he did lay the ball on for Austin as they grabbed the equaliser.
Matheus Pereira - 5
Pereira didn’t get involved enough to make an impact. Deliveries from corners and free kicks were poor but kept the ball crucially towards the end of the game to see the game out.
Matt Phillips - 6 (subbed off 70')
Smashed the ball across the face of goal for Diangana to equalise and whipped in a lovely ball in which Robson-Kanu headed wide from. Was taken off with 20 minutes to go.
Grady Diangana - 7 (subbed off 40')
Grabbed Albion’s equaliser from close range and was causing a constant threat down the left in the first half. Suffered a hamstring injury which forced him off which will cause some worry to Slaven Bilic.
Hal Robson-Kanu - 6
Held up the ball nicely throughout the game, winning free-kicks and getting the Baggies up the pitch. The ball didn’t stick to him when trying to get an opportunity for himself but yet again he put in a decent shift.
Kyle Edwards - 6 (subbed on 40')
Replaced Diangana towards the end of the first half and did well on the left creating a couple of chances in the second half. Should surely start next Saturday.
Darnell Furlong - 7 (subbed on 61')
Grabbed an assist for Austin’s winner with a delightful clipped cross. He was solid defensively when needed also too to ensure Albion got three points.
Charlie Austin - 9 (subbed on 70')
What an impact from Austin, who scored a brace to turn the game on its head. A fantastic 25-yard strike and a close-range header grabbed WBA the win. Today’s man of the match and he’ll surely be in contention to start against Brentford next Saturday.