Stoke boss Gary Rowett saluted Saido Berahino after the striker ended a two-and-a-half-year goal drought in a battling 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town.
Berahino’s 53rd-minute header and Juninho Bacuna’s bizarre 97th-minute own goal did the damage for the Championship hosts as they stunned their Premier League visitors at the bet365 stadium.
“He needed a lucky break and he’s reacted well,” said Rowett. “I’m pleased for everyone first and foremost, but I’m pleased for him.
“He’s only 25 and he’s got a bright career. It’s a good start for him and he’s got to keep working hard.
“He’s been one of our brighter players and his work rate has been excellent.
“If you haven’t scored that many goals it’s hard, so I’m pleased for him.
“The first day I came in Saido came to see me and wanted to see where he stood and to discuss why previous regimes had maybe ostracised him, maybe?
“He said he’d been to blame for some of his actions and he was honest, which is the first step for anyone who has done something wrong and wants to start afresh.
“All I said to him was forget me – if you work hard for me then you’ll win me over. I told him it’s the rest of his mates he has to win over, he had to earn the respect of his team-mates back and for them to trust him.
“When he scored everybody went over to him, which shows they were all really pleased for him. He’s worked hard since pre-season and earned the respect of his team-mates.”
The hosts could have won by more but Berahino wasted two good chances and keeper Jonas Lossl thwarted winger James McClean with a smart save at his near post.
Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner admitted his side lacked a cutting edge in the final third and that improvement is needed after a miserable start to the season which has yielded three defeats and one draw.
“In general it’s a disappointing evening because we’re out of the competition,” said Wagner, who made wholesale changes to his side following Saturday’s goalless draw with Cardiff City.
“We made so many mistakes in possession and the quality wasn’t there in the final third.
“I’ve got no complaints. I’ll always back my players if they work hard, but we have to improve the quality.
“We made the changes because we wanted fresh legs and to give other players an opportunity to play.”
The clinching goal came when Bacuna shanked a clearance over Lossl from around 50 yards in stoppage time and Wagner said: “It was an extraordinary own goal for sure, but that wasn’t the biggest moment of the game for me.
“We have to be honest. Our attitude and effort is there, but we’ve lacked quality and the Stoke goalkeeper only had to use his hands once.
“Our decisions in the final third are not the right ones at the moment, but we will work hard to put this right. There is no doubt we have talent in this group, but we have to improve and progress as quickly as we can.”
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