West Brom’s return to the Premier League ended in defeat as they were comfortably beaten 3-0 by Leicester City at The Hawthorns.
A Timothy Castagne header and a penalty brace from Jamie Vardy were enough to get The Foxes off to the perfect start, as they simply had too much for Albion, whose sloppy second-half performance cost them in their opening game.
Slaven Bilic opted for a surprise five at the back system, which saw Dara O’Shea play in central defence alongside Semi Ajayi and Kyle Bartley.
Matheus Pereira and Grady Diangana started on the wings for the first time as permanent players whilst Callum Robinson was the lone striker.
The Baggies started brightly for the opening 25 minutes but didn’t create any meaningful chances to punish a sloppy start from the visitors.
As the second half grew on, Leicester started opening up Albion on multiple occasions, but Harvey Barnes was thwarted by a number of routine stops by Sam Johnstone.
Leicester’s early dominance in the second half provided the first goal of the game as Dennis Praet’s perfectly clipped cross was headed home from close range by debutant Castagne, who got ahead of Kieran Gibbs and Dara O’Shea to power The Foxes in front.
From then on, The Baggies totally disintegrated, making silly mistakes at the back that wouldn’t go unpunished in the Premier League.
With 16 minutes to go, on a Leicester counter-attack, Bartley stupidly grappled Vardy down to the ground inside the penalty area and referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot.
Vardy comfortably sent Johnstone the wrong way to open his account for the season and continue his brilliant goalscoring record at The Hawthorns.
Albion then sloppily handed the visitors another spot-kick as O’Shea caught James Justin inside the area when attempting to go for the ball.
Vardy was the beneficiary again and slotted his penalty ruthlessly in the same corner to condemn the Baggies to the foot of the Premier League table after the opening day.
Here’s how we rated the WBA players in the 3-0 defeat:
Sam Johnstone - 6
Kicking was impressive in the first half, with his long-range ball allowing Furlong to win a free kick on the edge of the box. Kept out Barnes in the first half with a couple of decent stops. Couldn’t do anything about the goals with a bullet header from Castagne and two ruthless Vardy penalties making the difference.
Darnell Furlong - 6
Was lively in a bright spell for Albion in the first half with his attacking threat causing problems for James Justin. Didn’t make any glaring errors but was let down by his defensive teammates, who fell apart after the first goal went in.
Semi Ajayi - 5
Ajayi looked comfortable and solid up until the first goal, where the defence just crumbled. Was outpaced by Barnes in the build up for Bartley’s foul on Vardy. Will have to adapt quickly to the top flight.
Kyle Bartley - 4
Bartley was another one that was competent up until the first goal. Didn’t know what he was thinking to bring down Vardy in the area which effectively killed the game off. For a man of his experience, he has to do far better than that.
Dara O'Shea - 4
O’Shea was guilty of giving Leicester areas to pinpoint passes through when they got on top late in the first half, though Albion escaped unpunished. Caught Justin in a late attempt to go for the ball for the second penalty which capped his day off. A lot to learn.
Kieran Gibbs - 5
Disappointing from Gibbs, whose poor header away from Justin’s cross contributed to Leicester’s next attack for the first goal. Was beaten with O’Shea by Castange who rifled his header home.
Jake Livermore - 5
Made a few of his usual robust challenges, which he was unfortunate to be penalized for. Slipped in Pereira neatly for a half-chance before losing Praet for the opening goal.
Romaine Sawyers - 4
Sawyers started brightly, pushing further up in an advanced midfield position but as soon as Leicester upped the tempo, he was pushed back and was chasing the ball with their slick passing. Cheaply lost the ball which led to the opening goal and was substituted shortly after.
Matheus Pereira - 5
Was quiet in large periods of the game. Had a close range free kick blocked by the wall before lashing over after taking the ball down in a similar position. Was denied by the feet of Schmeichel after being cleverly slipped in by Livermore. Couldn’t impact the second half when Leicester took control.
Grady Diangana - 5
Gave Castagne a bit of work to do early on in the first half, as he got into dangerous positions with his usual trickery. Was restricted in the second half with Leicester’s dominance proving too much.
Callum Robinson - 5
Robinson for the time he was on fed off scraps with the ball hardly being played into his feet. Chased a number of long balls but was not supported well enough against a tough Leicester backline. A difficult start to his permanent Albion career.
Hal Robson-Kanu - 5 (subbed on 60')
Replaced Robinson but didn’t add anything different. Failed a chance to slip an Albion man in when we under-hit the pass.
Rekeem Harper - 5 (subbed on 69')
Was brought on shortly before Leicester doubled their lead. Albion were struggling with The Foxes dominance and Harper could do nothing to turn it around.
Kyle Edwards - 5 (subbed on 69')
Another one that couldn’t turn the tide. Had an effort blocked by Justin late on but the game was already over before that moment.