A Jay Rodriguez handball helped WBA steal two points from an Aston Villa side who had enough chances to win a local derby at the Hawthorns for ten years.
Anwar El-Ghazi’s deflected strike put the visitors ahead before Dwight Gayle levelled. Dutchman El-Ghazi then brilliantly found Sam Johnstone’s top corner before Rodriguez handled the ball into Villa’s goal in added time.
With a combined 80 goals between the two sides prior to kick off, the opening ten minutes didn’t disappoint. And through a touch of good fortune, it was Villa who broke the deadlock.
As El-Ghazi moved inside from the right right wing, Jack Grealish made enough space for the winger to fire on goal. But after two deflections off West Brom men, Johnstone was left helpless between the sticks.
Villa looked comfortable in the lead, with James Chester and Axel Tuanzebe marshalling the dangerous duo of Gayle and Rodriguez. Alan Hutton was the only alternation since a trip to the Riverside. He kept Harvey Barnes quiet until a costly mistake allowed the Leicester loanee to march towards goal. He stood up a cross towards the oncoming Gayle at the far post and typically he volleyed past Orjan Nyland to tie the scores.
Before the interval, Villa applied further pressure on the Baggies goal. With John McGinn crashing the base of the post after unleashing a fierce strike from distance.
The away side for the most part of the second period, however, let West Brom play their football, boasting only 27% of the ball at the hour mark.
Yet with the quality of Villa’s forward line, they carved out another opening. El-Ghazi emulated his superb strike against Forest weeks ago. Yannick Bolasie travelled inside form the left flank, before using his opposing winger who steadied himself before curling a shot towards the outside of Johnson’s left-hand post. An unstoppable effort from the Dutchman who is now bang in form.
Winning the November player of the month, Tammy Abraham is also in scintillating form, bagging six goals in three games. The Chelsea loanee could’ve made it eight in four on another night.
Unable to sort his feet out from a couple of yards, he missed a blunder he would certainly live to regret. Before again missing the target with a free header minutes later.
The away side looked in control, but as Grealish left the field, West Brom had rejuvenated hope of clinching a point. And so they did. Even if two officials couldn’t spot a deliberate handball on the goal line by Rodriguez. The former Burnley man bundled the ball in after controlling it with his arm. Two awful mistakes by incompetent officials could now become critical to Aston Villa’s season.