Paul Scharner scored a second-half winner as West Brom won at Aston Villa for the first time since 1979 with a 2-1 victory on Saturday. It was a dramatic and extremely controversial Midlands derby which saw two penalties and a red card.
Scharner fired home after getting on the end of Chris Brunt’s corner to give his side a second consecutive victory and keep its unbeaten run going to four matches. Jonas Olsson scored the tying goal for West Brom after Darren Bent gave the home team the lead early on.
However, the match will be remembered for a number of refereeing decisions which saw Alan Hutton escape a red card for injuring Shane Long and Chris Herd sent off for fouling Jonas Olsson inside the area only for Brunt to miss the spot kick.
Villa had taken the lead early on after a mix-up from Ben Foster and Steven Reid saw the former bring down Gabriel Agbonlahor inside the area, with Bent stepping up to score.
But the club left in shock by a series of decisions which seemed to go against it and in the end could not provide a response to Scharner’s goal.
Alex McLeish reacted to last Saturday’s heavy defeat to Manchester City by ringing the changes to his side. As expected, James Collins returned to the starting lineup having recovered from a groin injury and he replaced Ciaran Clark.
Charles N’Zogbia and Barry Bannan came in for Emile Heskey and Stephen Ireland, while Herd made his second start of the season in place of Fabian Delph.
Roy Hodgson made just one change to the side who had defeated Wolves last week, replacing Somen Tchoyi with Peter Odemwingie as his side looked to win at Villa for the first time since 1979.
West Brom has scored five goals inside the first 10 minutes this season, but it was the home side which should have opened the scoring early on.
Steven Reid’s poor clearance from inside his own area went straight to Bannan and his mis-hit shot found Bent unmarked eight yards out, but he could only sky the ball over.
Bannan then had another chance to strike from a similar distance after Olsson had headed away Stephen Warnock’s cross, but this time he smashed it narrowly over.
The tackles were certainly flying in from Villa, with Herd being warned by referee Phil Dowd for one challenge and Alan Hutton fortunate enough to get away with a two-footed tackle on Shane Long which left him needing treatment.
Long came back on to the pitch for a bit, only to be fouled by Hutton again who this time received a yellow card for his trouble.
The Baggies top scorer tried to continue but eventually he had to hobble off, replaced by Tchoyi as Billy Jones was next to be booked, this time for a foul on N’Zogbia.
Things soon got worse for the away side as they gifted Villa a penalty. Reid waited for Foster to collect the ball, inside his own area, but Agbonlahor reacted quickest to nip in ahead of them and was brought down by the goalkeeper.
Bent sent Foster the wrong way from the penalty spot, before going to the West Brom fans and cupping his hands behind his ears.
The visitors, though, responded well to the double set back of losing a goal and their top scorer, with Jerome Thomas shooting over from the edge of the area.
The match then turned back in favor of the visitors with Dowd giving them a penalty after being told by his linesman of a stamp by Herd on Olsson inside the area which replays showed to be a harsh decision on the midfielder.
Herd was sent off for his act, but the Villa fans were ecstatic so see Brunt slice the spot kick miles wide.
Given then had to save well from Tchoyi’s powerful shot on the edge of the area and Hutton was replaced by Carlos Cuellar after an accidental collision with one of his own players.
But in a dramatic first half, West Brom still had time to level the scores as Olsson again incurred the wrath of the home fans by out-jumping Collins to head home Brunt’s right-wing corner.
And then minutes later Thomas was played through by Odemwingie and stuck the ball past Given, but the linesman incorrectly called him offside.
Understandably, there were boos at halftime for the officials as the teams went off, with both teams having grievances over decisions made against their sides.
The second half started quieter but West Brom soon managed to get on top once again.
First, Given had to palm away Youssouf Mulumbu’s shot from the edge of the area then Olsson headed over another Brunt corner when he should have scored.
But the visitors were soon in the lead after yet another corner, this time from the left. Brunt’s delivery found Scharner in the area and he managed to scoop his shot above Given on to the underside of the bar and into the net.
The Austrian received some criticism from Mick McCarthy for a t-shirt he revealed last week which revealed a West Brom logo and he once again showed it off after giving his side the lead.
McLeish responded by bringing on Heskey from the bench for the disappointing N’Zogbia, but it was nearly a third goal for the Baggies after Villa once again failed to defend a corner adequately.
Thomas received the ball from Brunt and dribbled into the area, only to see his goal-bound shot deflected wide by Collins.
Collins then flicked a header wide from a rare Villa corner, but West Brom looked comfortable in defence.
Villa pushed for the equalizer but rarely looked close to finding it. In fact, it was Odemwingie who came closest to scoring next, but he missed the ball in front of goal after Tchoyi's center along the floor.
As the final whistle blew, the west Brom fans were jubilant as they celebrated a rare win at Villa Park and the first time they had scored more than once there since 1985.