Huddersfield head coach David Wagner saluted his side’s character after they bounced straight out of the Premier League’s relegation zone with a thumping 4-1 win against Bournemouth.
The Terriers secured their first points of 2018 and their first Premier League win since mid-December thanks to Alex Pritchard’s first goal for the club, Steve Mounie’s double and Rajiv van La Parra’s stoppage-time penalty.
Junior Stanislas had cancelled out Pritchard’s early opener – which was also the 24-year-old playmaker’s first Premier League goal – but Huddersfield halted their five-game losing run in the Premier League in style.
“It was a huge win for all of us,” Wagner said. “We said before the game that this is massive for us and that after Old Trafford we had the difficult fixtures behind us.
“Now it’s time to build up momentum against opponents which are in front of us, against whom we are more competitive.
“But it’s one thing to speak about it and another thing – and this shows character – to do it and the players have done that.”
Last week’s 2-0 defeat at Manchester United had plunged Town into the bottom three for the first time and Wagner was delighted with his players’ response.
“We’ve seen some fantastic individual performances from some of our players and collectively we attacked very well,” he said.
Pritchard marked just his second start for the Terriers and first at the John Smith’s Stadium following his switch from Norwich for a reported £12million last month with an eye-catching display.
“He was a handful. His link-up play was very good. He played fantastic.
“He worked defensively very intelligently. He is a talent and this is why we signed him.”
Wagner was also delighted with Mounie’s contribution and joked Van La Parra had denied him his hat-trick after deciding he would take the late penalty.
“Steve worked very well with Pritchard as the first defender. It was an outstanding performance,” Wagner added.
“He didn’t score his hat-trick because Van La Parra had an idea – a good one to be honest – and I’m happy he scored this penalty, even if I think Steve probably expects an assist in future, because he stole his hat-trick!”
Wagner confirmed Aaron Mooy had not suffered a serious knee injury after being carried from the field on a stretcher in the second half, but had required stitches in a cut.
Bournemouth’s recent form – seven league games unbeaten – had propelled them out of the bottom three up to 10th place before kick-off.
But boss Eddie Howe apologised to the club’s travelling fans, who had set off on their long haul from the south coast to West Yorkshire in the early hours.
“I apologise to them for the performance,” Howe said. “There’s not much else I can say.
“When you’re aware of the financial and time sacrifices that people make, you want to reward them with an inspiring performance, one that they can go away and talk about for many years. I don’t think that will be happening after that.
“I knew that Huddersfield would have wanted to get the crowd involved in the game today very early.
“Unfortunately for us, we allowed that to happen by conceding early. We fought back very well, but after that, we just faded away. It wasn’t great from us. We had no control.”