West Bromwich Albion needed a performance from their players on Saturday following a shaky patch of form and they duly delivered with a sensational 2-0 win over rivals Aston Villa.
The visitors were battling from the off and were unlucky on more than one occasion to see their chances of securing the opening goal the game snuffed out, including one intercepted effort from eventual scorer Hal Robson-Kanu.
West Brom ‘keeper Sam Johnstone was responsible for denying his former team the lead at halftime, doing well to meet Tammy Abraham in a one-on-one situation and block his shot.
Villa did look dangerous with Andre Green the most likely provider, but staunch defending from the likes of Mason Holgate kept him from impacting the game when it really mattered.
In the 41st-minute West Brom finally made their efforts pay with a goal from forward Hal Robson-Kanu, who finished a well-placed ball from Holgate who had momentarily switched from his defensive duties.
Four minutes later Jay Rodriguez latched onto a lapse in concentration from Hourihane and scored his side’s second of the game before halftime.
2-0 West Brom.
For all the offensive efforts of Aston Villa in the second 45 minutes, they failed to make their opportunities count with Johnstone putting in an inspired performance on his return to Villa Park.
Special mention goes out to Gareth Barry for his performance in the centre of the park.
He used all his experience to overcome the pressure of returning to the club that helped make a name for himself and oozed class when he was calmly orchestrating play from the centre of midfield.
His tactical and positional awareness is one of the fundamental reasons the Baggies left with three points and a clean sheet on the day.
Like a fine wine.