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HAT-TRICK HAKA...Chris Wood celebrates
BIRMINGHAM manager Chris Hughton hailed hat-trick hero Chris Wood after the New Zealander fired them to an emphatic 3-0 Championship win against Millwall at St Andrew's.
Wood, 19, who is on-loan from West Bromwich Albion, struck first after 29 minutes, doubled their advantage 17 minutes into the second half and sealed his hat-trick in the final minute.
In the process he became the first Birmingham player since Mikael Forssell, against Tottenham in March 2008, to score a hat-trick.
Wood has now been on target in each of the past three games - scoring five goals - and Hughton said: "Chris is getting better with each game that he plays and each week that he is with us.
"Anybody coming in and playing as regularly as he is now has an opportunity to develop his game and we are very grateful to West Brom.
"It is one that is working well both ways. We know the ability that he has got and he is able to do it on a regular basis now and we are delighted he is showing the form he is showing.
"I knew of his ability and what he did on-loan last year but you are never sure how it will work out but this is one at the moment that is working out very well for us and Chris is enjoying it very much."
Hughton was also pleased with the overall display of his team as they secured their second league win of the season.
He added: "I think the clean sheet was as important as the goals. The goals came at the right moment and it was very pleasing because we were up against a very tough team that started the game well but we showed great resilience."
Millwall had created the better early openings with former Birmingham loanee Hameur Bouazza coming close to giving them a third-minute lead when he stung the hands of goalkeeper Boaz Myhill with a fiercely struck free-kick.
Winger Liam Feeney, who was making his debut following his arrival from Bournemouth, was then frustrated in the 19th minute when Myhill tipped his shot on to the post.
The value of Myhill's intervention became clear 10 minutes later when Morgaro Gomis released Jean Beausejour down the left wing and the Chilean's cross was swept home by the on-rushing Wood.
Wood ended Millwall's hopes of a comeback with his second in the 62nd minute - drilling a low drive into the corner of the net from 12 yards after a knock back from Adam Rooney.
Winger Chris Burke set him up for his hat-trick - delivering a cross from the right flank that Wood headed past the stranded David Forde.
Millwall manager Kenny Jackett has now see his side fail to win any of their past four Championship games.
They have also failed to score in their past three and Jackett admits he needs to find a solution to that quickly.
Jackett said: "Our first-half performance was pretty good and we were somewhat unlucky to be 1-0 down.
"We gave them a good game in the first half and we did well to be honest and perhaps had the better of it.
"In the second half, I felt that we didn't do enough. We didn't really show enough belief.
"The clear cut chances that we did have we needed to put them away to give everyone a lift.
"I was disappointed with the first two goals that we conceded. We need to eradicate that and as in terms of going forward we do need to find that goalscoring equation.
"It is an obvious thing."
He added: "We have to come through it. There is no doubt about that.
"Confidence and belief is part of being a professional sportsman and you have to maintain that and always fight back.
"But it is three league games without a goal. We are aware of that.
"For us now it is about finding the right combination to score."