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Slaven salutes derby-day success

14 December 2019

Slaven Bilić hailed his Albion side after they twice came from behind to secure a thrilling 3-2 derby victory against Birmingham at St Andrew's.

Substitute Charlie Austin bagged a late brace, within 11 minutes of stepping off the bench, to secure local bragging rights over Albion's midlands neighbours.

Grady Diangana's fifth goal of the season quickly cancelled out Lukas Jutkiewicz's third-minute header, only for Harlee Dean to restore Blues' advantage just minutes after the interval.

However, super-sub Austin made the difference with a fantastic first-time finish from 20 yards before a well-taken header in the 80th minute sealed a dramatic win.

"It was a brilliant game," said Bilic.

"For me it was a privilege, I've been around and involved in many derby games in Russia, Turkey, Croatia and England as well.

"These are the ones. It's a great privilege to be involved. Big shout to the fans, the benches, the referees, to both teams, I love the energy and everything.

"We responded quite well to that, that was one part of the game, one part of the plan.

"Apart from set-pieces, we coped well with second balls.

"It's impossible in derby games to get the ball down and control and dicate the tempo for the whole game. But every time we did that, and we did enough of it, we caused them problems when we got behind their midfield with a good number of players.

"At half-time we only asked to be more patient, but when we get into those positions to be more ruthless.

"Of course, when they scored a second goal it becomes more difficult.

"So we changed the system and the way we were playing a little bit.

"And that's how we scored.

"It's great to win any game, it's great to win the games in December as they're even more difficult, it's our third game in six days, it's great to win derby games and it's even better to win derby away games."

The Baggies boss also reserved special praise for two-goal matchwinner Austin.

The in-form Albion marksman made it six goals in five games to extend the club's unbeaten sequence to an impressive 12 matches.

"Two brilliant finishes from Charlie," he added.

"His second, his movement when he got rid of the defender, it's pure class, very clever. Something he's been doing his whole career.

"A good ball came in from Darnell and a great finish.

"Also, how we managed the game after that. We managed it really well."

Bilić confirmed the club will assess a hamstring injury sustained by Grady Diangana, who was forced off after 40 minutes, although it is hoped it is not too serious.


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