Charlie Austin double downs Birmingham

Charlie Austin inspired a West Brom comeback as they came from behind to beat Birmingham 3-2 and return to the top of the Sky Bet Championship at St Andrew’s.

Substitute Austin scored in the 73rd and 81st minutes to make it six goals in five games.

Birmingham led at the start of both halves through headers from Lukas Jutkiewicz and Harlee Dean but Grady Diangana levelled in the 10th minute before Austin turned the game to extend West Brom’s unbeaten run to 12 matches.

Albion have dropped just six points out of the last 36 available, while Birmingham have won just one game in their last eight and could have few complaints at the outcome.

They took the lead in the second minute when Maxime Colin crossed after Albion cleared a corner, and Jutkiewicz headed home from six yards out for his sixth goal of the season.

Blues went close shortly afterwards from the same combination, but Jutkiewicz stabbed wide under pressure from Semi Ajayi.

Albion levelled in the 10th minute. Blues partly cleared Matheus Pereira’s corner and Matt Phillips’ fierce angled shot was turned into the roof of the net by Diangana at the far post from two yards.

West Brom should have gone ahead in the 32nd minute but striker Hal Robson-Kanu headed across the face of goal running onto Phillips’ cross.

The visitors suffered a blow in the 38th minute when Diangana limped off with what looked like a hamstring injury. He was replaced by Kyle Edwards two minutes later.

Blues wasted an excellent chance on the stroke of half-time.

Jude Bellingham’s chip put Kristian Pedersen through but the left-back’s first touch off his chest was poor and his toe-poke was straight at goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.

Blues started the second half looking like they were on a mission.

Jutkiewicz climbed above Jake Livermore but his header flew over the bar from Bellingham’s corner.

Blues regained the lead however from the resulting flag-kick when Dean rose above Conor Townsend and his header beat Johnstone, who appeared to be unsighted by Nathan Ferguson jumping in front of him.

Tackles were suddenly flying in and Livermore was booked for going in late on David Davis before Ivan Sunjic was yellow-carded for lunging in on Pereira.

Albion levelled out of the blue when Austin, who replaced Phillips in the 70th minute, received a short pass from Livermore and turned Geraldo Bajrami before firing an unstoppable half-volley into the net.

Seconds after Jutkiewicz had an effort disallowed for offside, Albion went ahead for the first time.

Austin peeled off Colin at the far post from Darnell Furlong’s cross to plant a downward header past Connal Trueman into the bottom corner.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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