West Bromwich Albion 3 Watford 1: Baggies up to sixth in clinical display
Tony Pulis’ side beat ten-man Watford
West Bromwich Albion moved up to sixth in the Premier League after seeing off a Watford fightback in the second half to win 3–1.
Defender Jonny Evans put Albion in front from a corner before Chris Brunt doubled their lead with a free-kick.
Christian Kabasele reduced the deficit by poking home from close range in the second-half.
Watford had Roberto Pereyra sent off and Albion made their advatange pay as Matt Phillips scored a fine goal to restore his side’s two-goal cushion in added time.
Watford enjoyed the match’s first chance, Nordin Amrabat’s fierce drive from 20 yards forcing Ben Foster to spring into action and tip the ball over inside two minutes.
At the other end, Phillips cut inside from the left wing but wasted his sight of goals, curling a shot high and wide from the edge of the box.
West Brom, however, made no mistake with their next opening after 17 minutes.
After Craig Dawson’s low cross was blocked, Brunt’s resultant corner was met by Evans who headed home from seven yards.
Incredibly, that was Albion’s seventh goal from a corner this season — more than any of their Premier League rivals.
The goal sparked the match into life and it was West Brom who were in the ascendancy, first Salomon Rondon heading wide before Brunt’s dangerous cross was well cleared by Camilio Zuniga.
But Watford succumbed to the pressure and the home side doubled their lead on 33 minutes.
Brunt set his sights with a free-kick from 25 yards and his thumping effort took a deflection sending it beyond Heurelho Gomes in goal and into the bottom corner.
West Brom pushed for another and after Rondon almost got onto the end of Allan Nyom’s fizzing cross, the home fans goaded the visiting Watford supporters by singing “you should have gone Christmas shopping.” And they were probably right.
Indeed the Baggies almost added a third goal immediately after the restart, but James Morrison’s half-volley from Brunt’s dangerous cross went just over the bar.
As Watford looked to reduce their arrears the match opened up and both sides were afforded opportunities.
Troy Deeney’s shot was bravely blocked by McAuley before the hosts should have added to their lead at the other end.
Northern Ireland international Brunt, who hassled the Watford defence all afternoon, first sent a cross into Rondon which was poked wide by the striker before Brunt himself was denied a certain goal courtesy of Jose Holebas’ excellent block at the back post.
West Brom stopper Foster then produced an excellent stop to save McAuley’s blushes when the defender almost looped a header into his own net.
But the former Manchester United goalkeeper could do nothing as The Hornets halved the deficit on the hour mark.
Deeney did well to poke Sebastian Prodl’s header back across goal from a corner and Kabasele was on hand to tap home from close range.
With the visitors smelling blood, Albion went in search of a third goal to kill the game off and almost got it when Phillips again cut inside — but the winger curled his effort inches wide of the far post.
The three points were by no means safe and West Brom had Foster to thank again as he bravely dived at Deeney’s feet to dispossess the striker and prevent an equaliser with 13 minutes remaining.
The visitors were reduced to ten men with little over five minutes left.
Midfielder Pereyra was sent off for reacting to James McClean’s strong challenge during a feisty incident which also saw McCLean and Deeney booked for their troubles.
That red card signalled the end of Watford’s fightback and West Brom secured all three points a minute into added time.
Phillips exchanged a neat pass with Darren Fletcher on the right before dancing inside and finding the bottom corner with a superb drilled effort from 25 yards.
West Brom: Foster; Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Nyom; Yacob, Fletcher ©; Brunt (McCLean 80), Morrison (Chadli 75), Phillips; Rondon (Robson-Kanu 88).
Subs not used: Palmer; Olsson, Gardner, Galloway.
Goals: Evans, Brunt, Phillips.
Booked: McAuley, McClean.
Watford: Gomes; Zuniga (Ighalo 77), Prödl, Kabasele, Holebas; Guedioura; Amrabat, Capoue, Pereyra; Deeney ©, Okaka.
Subs not used: Pantilimon, Eleftheriou, Watson, Doucoure, Sinclair, Success.
Sent off: Pereyra.