West Bromwich Albion returned to winning ways in the Championship with a thumping 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
A Charlie Austin penalty and a brace from Matheus Pereira were enough to secure all three points as the Baggies ended their four-game winless run to maintain their five-point lead over third-placed Brentford.
Slaven Bilic made five changes to the side that were defeated 1-0 by Brentford, with Dara O’Shea, Kyle Bartley, Rekeem Harper, Filip Krovinovic and Austin all coming into the side.
In the first half, Albion didn’t look themselves again and were dominated in large parts by the hosts but Wednesday only mustered one meaningful chance when Adam Reach shot wide after Connor Wickham evaded two Baggies defenders with some quick feet.
However, towards the end of the first half, Bilic’s men were given a huge chance to take the lead as Moses Odubajo pulled down O’Shea in the penalty area from a Matheus Pereira free-kick and the referee David Webb pointed to the spot.
Austin calmly rolled the ball to the other side of Joe Wildsmith for his ninth goal of the season which ended the Baggies’s drab run in front of goal.
From that goal, Albion immediately came out refreshed for the second half and doubled their lead just short of the hour mark. Callum Robinson held the ball up well inside the box, before pushing it out to Kieran Gibbs, who whipped in a teasing delivery, which was met by Pereira who headed off the inside of the post.
Albion were nearly undone shortly after the restart when Kadeem Harris crashed the post after getting the beating of O’Shea.
Baggies substitute Kamil Grosicki was then denied twice as his first effort was bravely stopped by Wildsmith before he was met with an excellent tackle from Odubajo when inside the area.
Albion finally grabbed a third goal five minutes from time as Grosicki laid the ball to Pereira after some nice hold-up play by Robson-Kanu and he drilled the ball into the roof of the net after a slight deflection off the goalkeeper Wildsmith.
Here’s how we rated the WBA players in the 3-0 win:
Sam Johnstone - 7
It’s now a seventh clean sheet in eleven games for Albion’s number one. Wasn’t tested heavily throughout the game, but made a smart stop to deny Jacob Murphy in injury time.
Dara O'Shea - 8
O’Shea was brought back into the side and delivered a mature performance. Had a difficult task of containing Kadeem Harris but held his ground really well. Won the penalty to get Albion rolling on the scoresheet.
Kyle Bartley - 7
Bartley came in for his first game back and was ever-present in winning his aerial duels. Didn’t have a lot to do but did the basics well to ensure Albion kept a clean sheet.
Ahmed Hegazi - 9
Headed almost every corner away in the first half that the hosts put in as well as containing the inform Connor Wickham to very few chances. Mopped up most of the loose balls in the second half in a very impressive performance. Man of the Match on his 100th appearance for the club.
Kieran Gibbs - 8
Was another solid performance from Gibbs, who is a massive asset to the side. So assured at the back and grabbed an assist with a superb delivery which was met by Pereira for the second goal.
Rekeem Harper - 7
Harper came in for Livermore and gave a good account himself. Drove the ball narrowly wide just before the end of the first half, before being denied by a smart challenge in the box just before he was going to pull the trigger.
Romaine Sawyers - 8
Lost the ball early in the first half, where Albion were fortunate not to be punished, but picked himself up and did his defensive duties exceptionally well, shielding the hosts out on multiple occasions.
Filip Krovinovic - 7
Struggled to get a connection going with Diangana down the left in the first half. Set Albion away on the counter for the second goal with a precise first time ball before being replaced by Grosicki.
Matheus Pereira - 8
Pereira made a few poor decisions with his passing in the first half on the counter attacks. Came out in the second half and looked much better though, netting a brace with a well placed header and a drilled effort. Hopefully that is the Brazilian back to his best.
Grady Diangana - 5
Really struggled on the left wing to get anything going with his passes going astray and his control letting him down at times. Still looks very rusty with this being only his second game in six months.
Charlie Austin - 7
Austin was so cool as he dispatched the spot kick to put Albion in front. Made some nice link up plays and held the ball up well but didn’t get any clear cut chances after his goal. Solid shift though from the striker, whose opportunities have been limited this season.
Callum Robinson - 7 (subbed on 56')
Robinson impressed when coming on early in the second half, holding the ball up well for the second goal and getting Albion on their way in attacks with his pace.
Kamil Grosicki - 7 (subbed on 68')
Grosicki has been another player limited for chances so far in his Albion career but he took this one with a bright 20 minutes. Grabbed an assist for the third goal with a neat pass into Pereira before being denied twice of getting on the scoresheet.
Hal Robson-Kanu - 6 (subbed on 68')
Came on and held the ball up nicely as Albion looked to see the game out. Made a couple of neat passes with the third goal coming from when he had his shot blocked.
Semi Ajayi - N/A (subbed on 87')
Made one sharp tackle as he slotted in to defensive midfield.
Jake Livermore - N/A (subbed on 87')
Kept the midfield line solid as Albion earned a clean sheet.