West Brom manager Steve Bruce believes winger Grady Diangana’s form is key to the team’s performances after he helped them to a 5-2 victory over early Sky Bet Championship high-flyers Hull at The Hawthorns.
Callum Elder’s 27th-minute own goal set Albion on their way to their first win of the season after Oscar Estupinan hit the bar for Hull.
But it was a second-half goal fest as John Swift (48), Darnell Furlong (55), Karlan Grant (77) and Dara O’Shea (85) saw Albion net five for the first time since beating Swansea City 5-1 in December 2019.
Estupinan grabbed consolations for Hull on 77 and 90 minutes after hitting the bar at 0-0, but it was very much Albion and Diangana’s day.
And Bruce highlighted the impact of Diangana, who hit the post and was a constant threat down the left.
“That’s the best I’ve seen Grady play. The biggest challenge for me when I walked through the door was to get him playing well again,” said Bruce.
“He’s had a big summer and has worked tirelessly in the gym, but he’s loves his football.
“We know his talent. People come here today and they purred at some of the stuff he did.
“He gets you on the edge of your seat and there’s not many who can do that, and he does it with natural ability.
“When he plays well, like he did here, we’re a bigger threat.
“We have to keep him there, keep him right and if so, we have a player again.”
Bruce admitted there was tension before Albion scored as they sought that elusive first win of the season.
“We were a bit anxious and wary – we missed chances, so we needed something like that (own goal) to get us up and running,” he added.
“I’m disappointed the way we finished the game but we needed a win and we got it.”
Hull head coach Shota Arveladze had no complaints at the outcome.
He said: “We knew at 4-0 behind we wanted to do something to make it less hard and less painful. When you make it 5-1 it looks very bad so 5-2 gives some reaction, which, if you want to find something positive, gives us that feeling.
“They were better than us and we have to accept that, especially in the second half. We had a bit of the play in the first half an hour, but they played better than us, they played forward more.
“In the second half, they scored the second goal then got a third and we couldn’t stay in the game.
“They had one day less to prepare – they played on Wednesday – so we should have looked fitter than them, but we didn’t.”
The game changed when Hull striker Ozan Tufan went off.
“He held his hamstring and if you do that, it could be a while,” said Arveladze.
Forward Mallik Wilks looks to be leaving Hull after being left out of the squad amid reported interest from League One Sheffield Wednesday.
“He came to me and said he wants to leave. He was very straight and he’s made his decision to leave and that’s the reason he wasn’t here,” added Arveladze.
“I didn’t ask where he’s going. Whenever he was fit, he was in the team.”
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