On-loan striker shines as he fires Baggies back into the top seven with a goal in each half to pile misery on the visitors at the Hawthorns again
In a very scrappy game both sides created a number of opportunities but neither goalkeeper was much called upon to make a save from an on target shot. The opening goal of the game came in the first half from the impressive Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian converting a penalty after Craig Gardner had handled a Liam Ridgewell cross. The striker added a second in the second half as he chased down a poor Titus Bramble back pass and Simon Mignolet’s clearance struck him and rebounded into the net. The visitors did get a goal back with 11 minutes to play through Stephane Sessegnon but it was too little too late for the Black Cats.
The main talking point before kick off was the inclusion of Peter Odemwingie, who had been left out of the Albion squad since his transfer deadline day antics. Steve Clarke made one other change to his matchday squad that beat Liverpool, top scorer Lukaku returning to the side in place of Graham Dorrans. Injuries to Lee Cattermole and Danny Rose forced Martin O’Neill into two changes with Danny Graham given his first start for Sunderland since moving from Swansea and Seb Larsson returning to the midfield.
A very slow start to the game did not help lift the temperatures inside the Hawthorns but the game sprang into life in the 24th minute and chances began to appear at both ends of the game but somehow the deadlock was not broken. The post denied Steven Fletcher minutes after Lukaku’s miss, the striker was found by Graham and his measured low shot beat Ben Foster but struck the post and 24 – Graham to Fletcher, measured effort beat Foster but struck the post and bounced away, rebound came back to the striker but he volleyed over the crossbar.
Luckily for West Brom, its wastefulness in front of goal did not last long as Lukaku opened the scoring in the 34th minute from the penalty spot. Gardner, playing as a makeshift right back, handled a Ridgewell cross inside the area to gift the home side an opportunity to take the lead. Lukaku picked the ball up, placed it on the spot and blasted it past Mignolet for his 11th goal of the season.
The second half started slowly although there were potential openings neither side were able to test the opposition goalkeeper until the 75th minute. That was when Lukaku created and scored his second goal of the game. The striker stole the ball from John O’Shea on the halfway line and latched onto a weak Bramble back pass, Mignolet came out to clear the ball straight at the striker and the ball flew into the net
With 11 minutes to go, Sunderland grabbed itself a lifeline through an inch perfect Sessgnon strike from 12 yards. James McClean created space for himself inside the penalty area and fired a cross into six yard box; the ball struck Jonas Olsson and dropped to Sessegnon who curled the ball into the top corner.