Goals from Hal Robson-Kanu and Jay Rodriguez gave West Brom, all three points in a thrilling Midlands Derby against Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Story of the Game
This Midlands Derby started at an electric pace with both sides showing real attacking intent.
The first chance of the game did fall to Albion, as Robson-Kanu was slipped through and was bearing down on the Villa goal. Robson-Kanu let off a shot but a last-ditch block sent the ball out for a corner which was safely cleared.
Villa had an incredible chance to go in front when a misplaced Albion pass found its way to Ahmed Elmohamedy who fed Tammy Abraham in acres of space in the Baggies box. However, the young Englishman failed to poke it past Sam Johnstone.
Lovre Kalinic was called into action in the 12th minute when a long-range effort from Jacob Murphy was curling in but Kalinic got a strong hand to it.
Murphy had a much better chance, 10 minutes later as he was put through by Rodriguez but Murphy's effort was tame and easily gathered by Kalinic.
Tyrone Mings' antics are getting more and more bizarre each week. He made a superb tackle to deny to Murphy a scoring opportunity but bizarrely ran over to the referee to book Murphy for diving but instead found himself in the referee's notebook for dissent.
West Brom did take the lead, five minutes before half time through Robson-Kanu. Mason Holgate swings a great cross from the right and Robson-Kanu loops his header over Kalinic and into the Villa net.
The Baggies doubled their lead a minute before the interval, thanks to a thunderous strike from Rodriguez. Rodriguez found himself with tonnes of space just outside the box and his effort pinged off of the post and into the net.
Kalinic had to be replaced at half-time, through injury and he was replaced by Jed Steer.
The second half pretty much started in a similar way to the first with Villa on the front and West Brom hitting them on the counter.
Villa did struggle in the opening stages of the half, to create any meaningful chances and found it, incredibly difficult to breakdown the stubborn Baggies backline.
Villa had a thundering from John McGinn saved superbly by Johnstone and from the resulting corner a header went agonisingly wide of the post.
Abraham had a golden chance to set up a grandstand finish when Kortney Hause put in a delightful cross and Abraham met it sweetly but it went agonisingly wide.
As the game entered its dying embers, Villa continued to pressurise the West Brom defence but they just could not make the final ball count and were unable to find a way back into it.
Takeaways from the game
Jay Rodriguez is a Premier League level player
Rodriguez was at the centre of everything good going forward for West Brom in this game and deserves a return to the Premier League whether that is with the Baggies or not. West Brom mainly played on the counter-attack and Rodriguez was pivotal in creating Albion's best chances. He fed the ball out to the wings superbly all afternoon and took his goal with some aplomb. If West Brom do not go up this season, they will do well to keep hold of Rodriguez, who really looks like his injury woes are behind him.
Darren Moore has done wonders with the Baggies
When Darren Moore took over Albion, they lacked any form of fight or passion for football. Now the Baggies, look superb in every single department. Moore made some intelligent signings in the January window and the two that featured in this game played superbly. Murphy almost scored if it wasn't for some brilliant defending and Holgate set up West Brom's first. Even when Villa really put pressure on the defence, they stood firm and did not allow one of the league's most in-form strikers Abraham, many good opportunities.
Villa's defence needs some serious work
Villa Boss Dean Smith may have got the frontline scoring but the defence is in need of some huge improvements in the summer. New signings Hause and Mings seemed to be played in the opposite positions in this game and they both looked shaky at best. The ageing legs of Alan Hutton seemed to be quite a big problem in this game, with John Terry being part of the coaching team at Villa, hopefully, the level of defending can improve. Almost every time West Brom got forward they looked like scoring.
Man of the Match
As previously mentioned Rodriguez, was at the centre of all things good for West Brom. The former Burnley and Southampton man looks back at his best and was a menace to the Villa defence at all stages of the game. Rodriguez was calm and composed all afternoon and never let the occasion get to him.