Blues' spirit pleases Hughton

21 October 2011 09:05

Birmingham manager Chris Hughton hailed his side's "great spirit" as they came from behind to win for the third time in four games by beating Club Brugge 2-1 in Belgium.

The npower Championship outfit went level on points with their opponents in Europa League Group H after David Murphy cancelled out Joseph Akpala's third-minute opener before substitute Chris Wood hit a winner deep into stoppage time. Hughton's side have now come from a goal down to win against NK Maribor, Nottingham Forest and Brugge.

"It's another game in which we've unfortunately had to go behind but we showed great spirit," said the Blues boss. "We always knew we could drive through to the end but we needed everyone on their game tonight and they were."

The win could have been marred by a nasty-looking injury to defender Pablo Ibanez, who was knocked out in a sickening clash of heads with Akpala in the 83rd minute, but Hughton was relieved to learn that he suffered no lasting damage.

"Pablo was a real concern for us so we're very happy it was just concussion and he's okay," he said. "We feared the worst, as you always do with incidents like that when it is always a real concern. But, fortunately, it usually works out okay and thankfully it did.

"We're delighted for him. He had a very good game and also thinks he scored the winner! It is as big for us as the win. It's always a difficult moment. But we're very relieved he's okay and that comes before football.

"We've had two results. One is the scoreline and the other is the fact he is okay. It showed great professionalism to do what we did after a stoppage of six minutes.

"It was a vulnerable time for us with the long stoppage and when you know there are 10 minutes of added time it's always a massive lift for the home team. At 1-1 I would have been quite happy but we've got a group of lads who felt they could get more and they drove through to the end to get the win."

Brugge boss Adrie Koster said his side had only themselves to blame as they suffered their first home defeat against English opposition.

"We had the good start, we pressed them from the start and then scored the early goal," he said. "After that we had to press but didn't. We weren't aggressive enough and didn't defend the two goals well. That's why we lost the game."

Source: PA