West Brom boss Valerien Ismael believes Karlan Grant is finally showing why the club splashed out £15million on him.
The striker’s second-half drive earned a 1-0 win over Birmingham and sent Albion back to the top of the Sky Bet Championship on Friday.
He marked the one-year anniversary of his move to The Hawthorns with his fourth goal in four games.
Grant scored just once after his big-money switch from Huddersfield last season as Albion were relegated from the Premier League, but Ismael feels he is proving his worth now.
“The confidence level is very high for him and you need to keep the momentum going,” he said. “When you are on a run like that as a striker you can do everything and can decide the game. He is a key player for us.
“I’m delighted he has shown his quality and why the club took the decision to buy him. It was a difficult time but everything is behind him and we look forward to the next game.
“It was a difficult game. It was my expectation they would come in to have a clean sheet, to have a point, to waste time and to create frustration.
“It was important to stay calm and continue to put the pressure on. I said at half-time we needed to raise the intensity and we had the quality to score at any time.”
Conor Townsend’s early drive was turned over by Matija Sarkic, while Lukas Jutkiewicz glanced wide, but a poor game failed to ignite until the second half.
Birmingham created two fine chances and Scott Hogan poked wide after Jeremie Bela’s cross before Ivan Sunjic hit the bar on 65 minutes following Hogan’s cut back.
But, 10 minutes later, Albion grabbed the winner to send them above Bournemouth on goal difference ahead of the Cherries’ trip to Bristol City on Saturday.
Grant collected Jake Livermore’s pass and arrowed a low drive into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
Kyle Bartley was denied a second by a fine Sarkic save in stoppage time but, despite defeat, Birmingham boss Lee Bowyer was pleased with his players.
“That has been us of late. We have created good chances, not taken them and been punished,” he said.
“I can’t fault the players at all, the work ethic, the game plan we set out they followed it through to the smallest detail and performed very well.
“My only disappointment was the goal. It should have been prevented, it was a lack of concentration and we get punished.
“We are improving and as long as we keep trying to do the right thing we will start moving in the right direction. We can’t carry on missing chances, once we get one that’ll be it.”