West Brom 4-0 Burnley: Brilliant Baggies bounce to victory

An inspired display from Tony Pulis' grafters edge them into the top half of the table.

West Brom 4-0 Burnley: Brilliant Baggies bounce to victory
Matt Phillips fires the hosts ahead | Photo: Stu Forster/ Getty Images
West Bromwich Albion
4 0
Burnley
West Bromwich Albion: Foster; Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Nyom; Fletcher, Yacob, Brunt, Morrison (Gardner 82), Phillips (McClean 74); Rondón (Robson-Kanu 78)
Burnley: Heaton; Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward; Berg Gudmundsson (Boyd 78), Marney, Defour (Barnes 45), Arfield, Hendrick; Vokes (Gray 69)
SCORE: 1-0 Phillips 4, 2-0 Morrison 15, 3-0 Fletcher 36, 4-0 Rondon 63

A high press, fast passing tempo and clinical finishing are not attributes normally associated with the home side at the Hawthorns. Yet Tony Pulis put the stigma of his style of play to one side as his confident squad tore their visitors apart to squeeze into the top half of the table.

A close contest on paper

With the pre-match talk dominated by the unravelling news of Saido Berahino being shifted to France on a fitness camp, it could have been easy to forget that there was a contest about to take place between two mid-table sides. Both West Brom and Burnley could be considered as over-achieving whilst they linger mid-table, with each side tipped as potential relegation candidates at the start of the season.

Yet the Baggies went into the match with just one victory in their last nine league games at the Hawthorns. Though their visitors made the trip to Birmingham with just one point and one goal on the road. With almost identical records in the league, separated by just a point, the fixture was set up for an intriguing contest to complete the weekend's Premier League action.

West Brom produce a near-perfect first-half display

Both sides enjoyed comfortable spells of possession in the opening stages as they looked to assert their authority on the game. The first pocket of space opened up in the fourth minute as James Morrison drifted down the right wing.

His slide-rule cross was instinctively stabbed back towards his own goal by Dean Marney on the stretch, though he could only pick out current Baggies marksman Matt Phillips. The in-form attacking talent turned and duly smashed the ball into the roof of the net to give the hosts an early advantage.

The Baggies then went close to doubling their advantage just moments later as Morrison delivered another cross that was cleared only as far as Chris Brunt who drove his effort straight at Tom Heaton.

Burnley could and perhaps should have levelled on 12 minutes. Steven Defour floated in a free-kick that was flicked on by Ben Mee. Sam Vokes duly nodded down the second ball into the path of Jeff Hendrick, but the Irishman could only flick his effort over Ben Foster and wide of the goal.

The hosts looked in clinical form as illustrated by their early opener and they duly caught out their visitors oncemore on the quarter of an hour mark. Chris Brunt picked up a loose ball and found Salomon Rondon who laid the ball into the path of the rampant Morrison. The right midfielder drove forward as Mee allowed him space to glide into, before Morrison guided the ball into the bottom corner to send West Brom two goals ahead.

Morrison slides home a second (photo: Getty Images)
Morrison slides home a second (photo: Getty Images)

Matt Phillips fired an ambitious 25-yard effort wide, before the Baggies' press caused Heaton to produce an uncharacteristic error. With Rondon chasing him down, the England international passed the ball straight to Morrison who was that surprised to be gifted an early Christmas present that he shanked the golden opportunity wide.

Rondon's energy and ability to find space was causing Burnley problems and he was almost rewarded on 30 minutes for his work ethic. Matt Lowton misjudged a Jonny Evans header, allowing the ball to drop to Rondon who fired his half-volley just over. Moments later the Venezuelan drifted off Lowton again and curled an effort from the edge of the box that Heaton spectacularly tipped over the crossbar to keep his side in the contest.

The Burnley right-back was quite simply out of his depth against a rampant West Brom outfit. This time it was Phillips who found space on that side and he stood up a cross for Darren Fletcher to guide home his first goal of the season and the Baggies' third of the evening. Sean Dyche was grateful of the half-time whistle before any other damage was caused.

Hosts cruise to victory

The second half had a quite laboured approach compared to the predecessing 45 minutes, but the hosts still looked threatening with Phillips guiding a header over and Rondon curling a shaped effort wide. At the other end substitute Ashley Barnes added some energy to the Burnley attack but his teammates were struggling to extend the tempo with the livewire.

Wary that his side were stepping off the gas too much, Tony Pulis offered a few choice words after a number of passes went astray. His side adequately responded when Craig Dawson nodded a header wide from a free-kick before the hosts put their visitors back in their shell.

Allan Nyom found space on Lowton's side and the full-back cut the ball to Rondon on the penalty spot. In a similar fashion to Phillips' opener, the Venezuelan swivelled and fired the ball past Heaton for a fourth.

Rondon nets a fourth (photo: Getty Images)
Rondon nets a fourth (photo: Getty Images)

Johann Berg Gudmundsson offered a rare test for Foster from distance, as his long range drive stung the wrists of the West Brom shot-stopper. The Icelandic international then called the former England international into action again, causing Foster to palm his dipping free-kick over the crossbar.

It was a flash in the pan at best for Burnley, as Tony Pulis was able to rest three key players with Phillips, Rondon and Morrison leaving the field to standing ovations. One of the substitutes Craig Gardner skidded an effort that was tipped wide by Heaton, before Evans flicked a header wide as the game filtered to a close.

For West Brom it was a performance to remember as they jumped to ninth in the table, whilst Sean Dyche and Burnley will be looking to put this result behind them as quick as possible.