Birmingham City boss Gianfranco Zola could only praise Newcastle United star Jonjo Shelvey after the midfielder inspired the Magpies to a 3-1 victory on Wednesday night that sent them into the fourth round of the FA Cup, the Birmingham Mail reports.
Shelvey was making his first appearances for Rafael Benitez's side since serving a five-game ban, and he proved what the club had been missing in his absence.
Though he did not score in the third round replay against the Blues, he played a key part in all three goals. As well as bagging two assists, it was the midfielder's incredible pass that led to the penalty that allowed Matt Ritchie to break the deadlock for the home side.
And following the game Zola seemingly confirmed who was to blame for Birmingham's cup exit.
"Shelvey is obviously a player that when he is on the pitch he runs the show," he said, as reported by the Mail.
"He is very influential, not only by what he does but by the presence he has on the pitch."
Benitez will be hoping that Shelvey's performance is a sign of things to come for the Magpies, given that their form without him has been somewhat unconvincing.
Though they top the Championship table, they have won two and lost two of the four league games for which he has been unavailable while also drawing the initial tie with the Blues at St Andrew's.