West Bromwich Albion made it back-to-back wins with a thoroughly entertaining 4-2 victory over Hull City at The Hawthorns.
Goals from Charlie Austin, Ahmed Hegazi, Kamil Grosicki and Grady Diangana ensured that Albion kept their five-point lead ahead of Brentford as well as keeping themselves only one point behind Leeds, who currently sit top of the Championship.
Slaven Bilic made one change to the side that defeated Sheffield Wednesday with former Hull City player Kamil Grosicki replacing Grady Diangana.
The Baggies needed to respond with the pressure being put on by the teams around them, and they got off to the perfect start, breaking the deadlock inside four minutes.
A drilled cross by Matheus Pereira took a slight deflection and found its way into the path of Austin, who controlled it brilliantly with his chest and stabbed the ball past the Hull goalkeeper for his second goal in two starts.
Albion down the other end were very vulnerable to set pieces and it showed when Hull equalised in the 24th minute.
A George Honeyman corner was poorly dealt with by Sam Johnstone and Kevin Stewart arrived in to fire the ball home, with the help of two deflections as he beat Grosicki to the loose ball.
Albion began to test Hull again as they looked for a way back into the lead with Grosicki forcing a smart stop from Long at the near post. From the resulting corner, the Baggies broke through, as Hegazi unmarked, headed home from a Pereira delivery.
The Baggies failed to capitalise on chances at the end of the first half to seek daylight and rued misses by Harper, Pereira and Austin.
They were made to pay for that as the relegation-threatened side levelled up for the second time, with Da Silva Lopes’ cross being well headed into the far corner by Mallik Wilks.
However, just a minute after that, Bilic’s men immediately got themselves in front again in this topsy-turvy game. A splitting pass from Pereira put Grosicki through on goal and he confidently curled the ball past Long to grab his first goal for WBA.
Johnstone then pulled off a wonder save to deny Jon Toral from close range to keep Albion in the lead.
The hosts then wrapped up the game as the substitute Diangana ghosted past two Hull players before shooting a low effort off the inside of the near post to make sure Albion picked up a much needed three points.
Here’s how we rated the WBA players in the 4-2 win:
Sam Johnstone - 7
Made a couple of poor punches from corners with one of them leading to Hull’s equaliser. Made a game saving stop in the second half though to deny Toral, which spurred Albion on to victory.
Dara O'Shea - 8
Another fantastic shift put in by the youngster. Was a danger up the wings, delivering a number of teasing crosses. Was assured defensively as-well against a physical Hull attack.
Kyle Bartley - 6
Had a tough afternoon dealing with Magennis, who caused him problems throughout the game. Will be disappointed with how poorly he and his team-mates dealt with set-pieces.
Ahmed Hegazi - 6
Grabbed a goal with a bullet header from Pereira’s corner. Picked up a needless booking in the first half when stopping a Hull free kick being taken quickly. Was quite a harsh second yellow card for a foul on Wilks but his foolish decision for the first yellow rules him out of the game with Derby.
Kieran Gibbs - 5
Picked up another hamstring injury in the first half that might keep him out for the remainder of the campaign which is a real blow.
Romaine Sawyers - 6
Sawyers wasn’t as influential today and struggled to get much of the ball to dictate the play. Was subbed off on the hour mark.
Rekeem Harper - 7
Harper again provided a smart performance with his energy in midfield being needed. Carried the ball well to get Albion up the pitch but will be disappointed to not get on the scoresheet, wasting two good opportunities.
Filip Krovinovic - 7
Krovinovic struggled to link up with Grosicki in the opening minutes, but grew into the game from that point on. Had an effort go way over before testing the Hull keeper with a left footed shot.
Matheus Pereira - 9
An absolutely outstanding performance from the Brazilian magician again! Three assists including a ridiculous pass to Grosicki for third goal. Easily Man of the Match.
Kamil Grosicki - 7
Grosicki was another one that had to grow into the game. Was partly at fault for the first Hull goal, being beaten to the ball by Stewart. Tested Long with a near post effort before curling in his first goal for the Baggies in the second half. Was a danger on the wing throughout the second 45 minutes.
Charlie Austin - 8
Austin finished beautifully in the opening four minutes to bag two goals in his last two starts. His work rate was top class and could have grabbed another two goals had the service been better.
Conor Townsend - 7 (subbed on 36')
Townsend came on for the injured Gibbs and did a great job. His passing was crisp and added an attacking intent to the left side that was needed. Got on the wrong side of Wilks for their second goal which was his only fault.
Jake Livermore - 6 (subbed on 62')
Added body to the midfield to see out the game as prior to that Albion were losing a lot of key 50/50’s.
Hal Robson-Kanu - 6 (subbed on 62')
Came on and was sharper compared to his last two performances. Held the ball up well as Albion looked to see time out.
Chris Brunt - 7 (subbed on 72')
The Baggies kept the ball so much better when Brunt entered the field. He dictated the midfield towards the end and showed that he still has class.
Grady Diangana - 8 (subbed on 72')
This was more like the old Diangana who got on the scoresheet with a clinical effort. Embarrassed the Hull defenders at times with some outrageous skill towards the end of the game.