Karlan Grant hits winner as Baggies go top

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Ged Scott BBC Sport, The Hawthorns

Karlan Grant's low shot on the 75th minute finally broke the deadlock between West Brom and Birmingham City

Karlan Grant scored West Bromwich Albion's only goal against Birmingham City. This result placed them at the top of the Championship.

Grant's 75-minute goal was enough to see the Baggies replace Bournemouth on goal differential.

Lee Bowyer's City loses to defeat, leaving them with one point and no goals from their five previous games.

The West Midlands derby was the first to be held in front of a crowd since Covid-19. It created a great atmosphere inside The Hawthorns, but it quickly vanished as hosts faced a well-marshalled and rejigged Blues defense.

It took Grant's single moment of individual brilliance - Albion's fifth goal in five games - to make it all right.

The chances of scoring were slim, particularly in the first period when Conor Townsend's left foot piledriver was the only thing on the target. Blues goalkeeper Matija Skic tipped it over the bar.

Birmingham, who had left captain Harlee Dean on their bench to tighten their defense, was brighter after the break at the other side, and went close three times.

Scott Hogan failed to connect with Jeremie Bela's right wing cross in the second half.

Hogan turned Semi Ajayi around to reach the left byeline, and pulled the ball back. But Ivan Sunjic was leaning back, and his shot missed the bar.

Striker Hogan then soared to the side on Marc Roberts' half-volley.

The Baggies lost to Stoke by a late goal in their final game before the international break. Grant cut in from the left and found space to score a low shot past Serkic just outside the box.

The Blues have won only once in their 10 away league visits at The Hawthorns, and they have played five consecutive games without scoring since 2005.

What's next?

Both sides will be back in action Wednesday night, when Val Ismael’s Albion visits Swansea, and Bowyer’s Blues travels to Huddersfield.

West Bromwich Albion head coach Val Ismael:

Karlan Grant scored three points and got a clean sheet. There are many positives.

"When they showed you the statistic of conceding 12 goals in their five previous games, you knew something was wrong.

It was difficult. We had to remain calm. We are confident that we can score at any moment - and it did.

Lee Bowyer, Birmingham City's chief executive officer:

"I can't fault your work ethic. As a group, we performed well, looked solid, and kept them to very few, mostly from a distance.

"My only disappointment was the goal. We could have done better. It was one moment of concentration.

"But we cannot continue to miss chances. They'll be in the door once they have one.