John Eustace: Birmingham City can thank one key factor for win over West Brom
Birmingham City manager John Eustace revealed the one key ingredient that helped his side beat rivals West Bromwich Albion in the Championship on Friday.
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Birmingham City manager John Eustace hailed the togetherness and ‘family’ nature of his team after they held on for a deserved 2-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion on Friday evening. The result, which soared Blues up to 16th in the Championship, had more significance than just points on the board as it completed a first league double over the Baggies in nearly a quarter of a century.
Hannibal Mejbri’s quick thinking helped Birmingham to an early lead as the Manchester United loanee outwitted Baggies goalkeeper David Button from a free-kick. Making it out as if he was going to deliver a cross, the Tunisian swiftly changed his stance and went for goal, finding the near corner with a terrific curling effort.
Poland international Krystian Bielik doubled Blues’ lead shortly after the half time interval, with Hannibal involved once again. Whipping in a delightful corner from the right-hand side, the 19-year-old guided the ball into a dangerous position and Button completely misjudged its flight. Bielik was there at the far post to head it home, putting his side two to the good.
“I’m proud of the group and an excellent performance. We were on the front foot and you could see the effort and togetherness was there,” Eustace said post-match, with a smile. “The lads kept to the game plan and they were fantastic. The huddle at the end [after full-time] was player-led. It just shows when you get knocked and people doubt you, the players can really get together and show what they’re about.
“All of our performances this season have been with fight, grit, togetherness and determination. They’re not always going to be winning performances of course, but today really showed what Birmingham is all about. We’re working class and we look out for each other through the highs and lows. We’ve just got to keep working hard and that’s something I’m trying to instill in the group. I couldn’t be any prouder of the players and fans,” Eustace continued.
In a match that already had so much tension surrounding it with protests outside the ground and an intense rivalry with the opposition, it was a real relief for supporters to see their side on the right end of the result. Now just two points outside the top half and six behind West Brom in the playoff spots, there is a belief again that Blues can push on for a positive end to the season. Their next challenge, also at home, is against Cardiff City on Tuesday.