Birmingham 2-3 West Brom: Charlie Austin scores twice to send Baggies top
Report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash at St Andrew's
By Frederick Clayton
Last Updated: 14/12/19 6:17pm
Charlie Austin's double gave West Brom a thrilling 3-2 derby win over Birmingham at St Andrew's to put his side top of the Championship table.
The hosts made a lightning start after Lukas Jutkiewicz headed home inside three minutes, but the Baggies hit back quickly when Grady Diangana (10) tapped in at the back post.
Birmingham started the second half as they did the first, as Harlee Dean headed home from a corner (47) to give his side the lead again.
But Austin came off the bench to score a brilliant equaliser (73) with his first few touches. The striker put his side in front eight minutes later, heading home from a Darnell Furlong cross and sending his side two points clear at the top of the table as Leeds throw away a three-goal lead to draw at home to Cardiff.
How Austin sent the Baggies top
The hosts took the lead when the Baggies could only clear a corner as far as right-back Maxime Colin, who crossed the ball back into the danger zone where Jutkiewicz was ready with a bullet header.
But the visitors - who boast the best goalscoring record this season - were quick to respond, and as the ball found Matt Phillips from the corner 25 yards out, his wayward shot was met by an unmarked Diangana at the backpost.
Pereira, Diangana and Hal Robson-Kanu all returned for the Baggies. Birmingham's Harding, McEachran, Alvaro and Maghoma made way for Bajrami, Davis, Giminez and Jutkiewicz.
The Baggies goalscorer was unlucky to be forced off with an injury before the interval, but the visitors were luckier not to concede as Kristian Pedersen wasted a golden opportunity after trying to force the ball onto his left-foot when through on goal.
It was deja vu as Birmingham again struck early in the second half, Dean leaping highest from the corner. They held on to their lead and looked good for a win, until striker Austin entered the fold.
The striker smashed into the top corner from 25 yards just minutes after coming on the pitch, and then sealed victory 10 minutes from time, peeling away from his man to head home for the win.
What the managers said...
Birmingham's Pep Clotet: "The last few games Austin has been very effective coming on. When it comes goalscoring, I think West Brom made that difference.
"They had three shots on target and they scored three goals - Austin came on and had that cutting edge that made a little bit of difference."
West Brom's Slaven Bilic: "The first goal is pure class, the second goal, some may say it was an easy finish, but his movement to get away from the defender is class. The ball was good and he doesn't miss those chances.
"It is great when you strikers are scoring. Charlie has scored six in five, Hal is scoring goals, and you can't beat that."
Man of the match: Charlie Austin
His time on the pitch was brief but pivotal. Austin turned this one around with yet more goals from the bench. An invaluable asset for a side with title ambitions.
Birmingham face a trip to Hull next Saturday and that one kicks off at 3pm, while West Brom host Brentford at the same time on the same day.