Allardyce earns first West Brom victory

West Brom came from behind to claim victory in the Black Country derby as two penalties from Matheus Pereira helped them beat Wolves at Molineux.

It was only the Baggies’ second win of the season – and their first under new boss Sam Allardyce – and the first time they had scored three times away from home in the Premier League in almost seven years.

While they remain in the relegation zone, it will provide fresh optimism about avoiding the drop.

BBC Sport reported that both spot-kicks came from clumsy tackles from behind on Callum Robinson, by Willy Boly and Conor Coady.

The penalties were similar too as Pereira sent Rui Patricio the wrong way. The first broke the deadlock after eight minutes, the second won the game 11 minutes into the second half.

In between, Fabio Silva and Boly turned the game on its head in the space of five minutes at the end of the first half, only for Semi Ajayi to level with a header straight after the restart.

The result extended a miserable run for Wolves, who since striker Raul Jimenez fractured his skull at Arsenal on 29 November have taken five points from nine games and slid down the table into 14th spot, with all the clubs below them having games in hand.

After a nine-year break since the last one, this result extended an excellent West Brom record in derbies, which now contains just three defeats in 22 games.

read also:Allardyce calls for new football coronavirus shutdown

They achieved victory without goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, who was absent following a positive coronavirus test, and with a vocal intervention from Allardyce.

Having spent most of the game in his dug-out, legs stretched out and arms folded, the former England boss finally came out to voice an opinion as his side, trailing and looking edgy, failed to execute what their manager felt was a routine clearance.

Alllardyce’s bellowing could be heard from the media seats. The instruction was clear – get the ball away from our goal quickly.

The advice was heeded and while he might not like the description, within minutes, his side had scored what might be regarded as a typical Allardyce goal as Kyle Bartley flicked on a long throw to the near post and Ajayi nodded it over Patricio.

Pereira was nerveless with his penalties and while West Brom can hardly be relied on to either score regularly or keep clean sheets at present, Allardyce has apparently instilled some drive into his players.

With significant additions before the transfer window closes on 1 February, it cannot be discounted that Allardyce will maintain his proud record of never getting relegated.
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If there was one moment that underlined Nuno Espirito Santo’s increasingly desperate search for an answer to his side’s problems, it came 19 minutes into the second half.

Skipper Coady had never been substituted before under the Portuguese.

But after the England man conceded his side’s second penalty for another clumsy challenge on Robinson, Nuno evidently decided he was expendable as he switched his team around to accommodate the introduction of Rayan Ait-Nouri at full-back.

In a season where Nuno was committed to change anyway, the loss of Jimenez is threatening to undermine confidence in all the good work Wolves have done in progressing from a mid-table Championship outfit into a side capable of securing successive seventh-place finishes in the Premier League.

If, for instance, Wolves finished 15th this season, it would be an outcome they have only bettered three times since they were relegated in 1976. Evidently though, spending and improvement under Nuno has raised expectations.

They certainly made enough chances to beat West Brom – and had a staggering 23 shots – but without Jimenez, there was no consistent threat.

Fabio Silva took his goal well, opening his body up and sending a precise finish into the far corner from Boly’s back-heeled pass. But when crosses come into the box, he does not routinely attack them as Jimenez would.

When Boly put Wolves ahead with an instinctive effort just before the break, it did appear the hosts would claim victory.

Instead, West Brom rallied and though the hosts had responded once to falling behind for the ninth successive league game, a second comeback proved beyond them.

After all the talk about new Premier League protocols, Wolves celebrated both their goals normally and had pre-match huddles in the dressing room and on the pitch.

And after the final whistle, West Brom’s players celebrated in the usual fashion, underlining the difficulty in getting players to follow the demands of those trying to reinforce regulations.

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