McLeish hails matchwinner Zigic

The Serbia international has taken time to adapt to the Premier

League since his £6million summer move from Valencia, but

followed up his strike against Manchester City and winner at West

Ham with the only goal against Tony Pulis’ side. Blues have now

taken seven points from their last three games and climbed into

14th spot – three points clear of the bottom three. McLeish said:

“Ziggy has become a fixture in the team as he’s become more

aggressive. We know he’s capable of finishing. “If we get that type

of delivery to him in the box, there’s not a lot of defenders who

can live with a guy that size. “When I saw the goal again, it was

amazing to see him towering over John Carew, who is a giant

himself. “That is what the big fella is capable of. He was more

aggressive in the second half than he was in the first, when I

thought Stoke bullied us a little bit. “But in the second we were

much more enterprising.” McLeish was full of praise for his players

in reviving their fortunes in the league and also clinching a place

in the Carling Cup final against Arsenal in two weeks’ time. He

said: “I have to credit the players and squad for their reaction to

being under a lot of pressure in the last few weeks. “We were

flirting with relegation and there’s still nobody safe yet. We also

had a difficult semi-final and we’ve had a marvellous win. “You

have to credit these players for their mental toughness because a

lot of people would have crumbled under that pressure.” Stoke boss

Tony Pulis pointed the finger at goalkeeper Asmir Begovic for

allowing David Bentley’s shot to slip from his grasp before Cameron

Jerome crossed for Zigic’s winner. He said: “I didn’t think we

deserved to lose the game today. It’s always a tough game coming

here, playing Birmingham, but that’s the way it goes at times. “You

have to play the time out. There were three minutes added on and I

think they scored in the 93rd minute. “Asmir really should have

stopped it. It’s just bobbled out of his hands. I don’t think

they’ve had a real shot or chance for 90 minutes. “It had 0-0

written all over it. We had some very good opportunities which we

didn’t take. I couldn’t see there being a winner.”