08 August 2023

Juninho Bacuna has Premier League potential, says Birmingham boss John Eustace

08 August 2023

Birmingham boss John Eustace hailed Juninho Bacuna as a potential Premier League player after his brace secured a 2-0 win at Cheltenham in the Carabao Cup’s first round.

The Curacao international’s first goal was a heavily deflected shot in the 24th minute which flew past goalkeeper Luke Southwood off defender Liam Smith after efforts from Keshi Anderson and Koji Miyoshi were blocked.

Miyoshi was tripped by former Birmingham defender Curtis Davies on the edge of the box seven minutes later, earning the experienced debutant a yellow card.

And Bacuna curled the resulting free-kick into the top left corner for his second of the night.

“Bacca’s a talented player who can play anywhere on the football pitch,” Eustace said. “He’s got the quality to play in the Premier League if he continues to work hard.

“I was really pleased for him. His performance was outstanding. He was disappointed not to start at the weekend, but it’s a squad game.

“It’s about using the squad and it’s a competitive one even though we’re short in one or two areas.

“We still need to bring in some quality, but it’s about making sure everyone feels wanted.”

It was nearly 3-0 before half-time, with Miyoshi threading a ball through for Lukas Jutkiewicz, but Southwood advanced to save well.

Jordan James played Anderson through on goal in the 61st minute, but Southwood was equal to it.

Southwood denied Anderson again in the 74th minute with another one-on-one block.

The overworked goalkeeper beat away James’ powerful drive five minutes later, but the Sky Bet Championship side had done enough and League One outfit Cheltenham failed to trouble visiting keeper Neil Etheridge throughout the 90 minutes.

Robins boss Wade Elliott said: “We competed really well, but ultimately they had too much for us in terms of quality and in the end a little bit of physicality.”

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