Stoke City secured a desperately needed three points against a West Brom side who would feel that the 3-1 score-line misrepresented their efforts in the second half.
Goals from Joe Allen, Eric Choupo-Moting and Ramadan Sobhi were enough to secure the win, despite Salomon Rondon’s goal bringing West Brom’s spirits back in the second half.
Despite the many goals in the fixture, the overall quality of football was definitely the kind you would expect from two sides that have are dangling precariously near the bottom of the table, with passes and tackles alike lacking the precision necessary for a killer attack.
Stoke took the initiative from the kick-off with a bright start that didn’t give West Brom any opportunity to get a foot into the game.
But after the first ten minutes ended, the visitors finally started to push forward themselves as they gained more possession.
Stoke broke the deadlock just before the 20-minute mark, as a lucky ball fell to Peter Crouch who’s volleying cross falls for Joe Allen, whose clean contact put the ball past West Brom ‘keeper Ben Foster to give Mark Hughes’ side a much-needed lead.
West Brom, whilst attempts to equalise were fairly frequent, failed to settle down after Stoke’s goal, with tackles and passes being made too heavy-handedly to have their desired impact.
Their best chance to equalise came to Rondon on the half-hour mark. Rondon, who made his 100th appearance in the Premier League, controlled a lucky deflected block from Kurt Zouma, had a free shot in space in the box which rocketed over the bar, despite only having Ben Foster to beat.
Stoke played with much more intensity, especially after their first goal, as West Brom became increasingly frustrated with their lack of chances and the failure to take them when they did arrive.
Rondon’s second chance to equalise was well taken, with a first time shot from the left side of the box palmed past the post with a good save from Jack Butland, who up until that point had very little to do.
Maxim Choupo-Moting made it two just before the half-time whistle after a great through-ball from Joe Allen left Choupo-Moting to round Ben Foster and dance the ball past two covering West Brom defenders and into the net.
West Brom started the second half very aggressively, but unlike their first-half efforts, were much more fruitful, albeit still lacking the composure necessary to split the defence properly.
A great chipped through ball from Chris Brunt gave Solomon Rondon another chance through on goal, which he put away to bring West Brom right back into the game.
West Brom had penalty shout soon afterwards, with Hal Robson-Kanu going down after a challenge from Kevin Wimmer, but referee Neil Swarbrick waved play on.
West Brom boss Alan Pardew’s team talk definitely had the desired effect as their attack finally had a bit of sting at the end, and sent Stoke’s defenders into a blind panic in the ten minutes that followed Rondon’s goal.
Stoke very nearly nipped the West Brom motivation at the other end of the pitch, as a Xherdan Shaqiri free-kick whipped off Eric Choupo-Moting’s head and over the bar.
Injury woes for the visitors seemed to re-surface as substitute Nacer Chadli, who had been out since the middle of November, pulled up clutching his hip and was substituted for Jay Rodriguez after only 15 minutes on the pitch.
A return to the worst defence in the league for Chelsea loanee Kurt Zouma was welcomed as a string of blocks in the final half-hour kept the West Brom attack from making any real breakthrough, despite the heavy one-way traffic as the visitors searched for an equaliser.
The nervy home fans were audibly frustrated seeing their side have so little of the ball after dominating the possession in the first half.
In a rare bit of play in West Brom’s half, Stoke once again failed to score a third after a header from another Shaqiri free-kick was saved by Ben Foster, much like Butland’s save in the first half.
Had Foster not saved the shot, the goal wouldn’t have counted as West Brom defender Ahmed Hegazi was deemed to have been fouled in the build-up.
What was deemed a potentially boring fixture in the week leading up to the game turned out to be a dramatic nail-biter, with the final ten minutes showing that the game could’ve gone either way, with either side looking like they could score.
West Brom had two efforts go against them at the death as a scramble saw substitute Oliver Burke’s effort go around the post, before a Jonny Evans header was palmed onto the back of Rondon by Jack Butland to rebound into touch.
Ben Foster waited on the halfway line as West Brom’s attack continue to add the pressure, but that mistake cost him as Stoke stole possession and Choupo-Moting took the ball on the break as Foster dashed back into the box.
Choupo-Moting slide the ball unselfishly to substitute Ramadan Sobhi who slotted in Stoke’s much-needed third goal that secured their three points.
The result keeps West Brom 19th in the table, with Stoke, who claimed their first win in four league matches, moving up to 14th.