Two glorious goals from Shane Long appeared to have given West Bromwich Albion the edge against Aston Villa in a West Midlands derby at the Hawthorns, but the visitors struck back in the second half to pick up a point and deny their rivals.
More from our team sites
Long had scored a beautiful opener and then a quite magnificent second, but Karim El-Ahmadi put Villa back in the game before a fantastic strike from Ashley Westwood gave a deserved equaliser for the visitors.
Aston Villa had barely had time to settle into the game when Shane Long struck a spectacular goal to put the hosts into the lead. Chris Brunt's long ball left the Republic of Ireland striker chasing Nathan Baker for the ball. Having outpaced the defender, Long then took a wonderful touch to wrongfoot him, stepping inside and lashing an effort past Brad Guzan to stun the visiting fans.
Aleksandar Tonev came close to equalising with an effort which deflected off Gareth McAuley, but Boaz Myhill was able to claw it away. Then, disaster struck again for Villa, who soon found their deficit doubled. A terrible backpass from Leandro Bacuna gave Long time and space again, and the Irishman produced another fine touch to get away from Baker, before chipping Guzan to put the Baggies two up in the space of eleven minutes.
The Baggies could have been ought of sight thereafter, courtesy of a glorious chance. Morgan Amalfitano picked out Stephane Sessegnon, but he somehow contrived to miss from five yards out. Villa almost made him pay for the miss straight after too, but Libor Kozak struck the woodwork after some fine footwork and help from Christian Benteke.
Long was still looking the most dangerous man on the pitch, and had to be denied at the last twice, first by a fine Ron Vlaar tackle and secondly by Guzan as he went on a mesmerising run before smashing in a powerful effort.
After half-time, Paul Lambert made a triple substitution in an attempt to get his side back in the game, with Gabby Agbonlahor, Andreas Weimann and Fabian Delph replacing Aleksandar Tonev, Libor Kozak and Yacouba Sylla. The move almost had an immediate impact too, as a rampaging run from Benteke was brought to a halt with a crunching tackle, only for Weimann to strike the loose ball. A deflection saw the ball deceive Boaz Myhill, but hit the keeper's feet and roll just wide. From the resultant corner, Fabian Delph tried his luck from range but failed to get it through the crowd of bodies in the area.
Sessegnon was then guilty of more profligacy as Amalfitano once again picked him out only for his poor touch to result in a wild finish which was well over the bar. This time, Villa did make him pay, as Bacuna's cross was headed back in by Weimann for Karim El-Ahmadi to turn the ball in from close range, and put themselves right back into the game.
And Villa didn't have to wait too long before they restored parity with Kieran Westwood's first goal for the club. A poor defensive header from Goran Popov found the midfielder outside the area, and he took a fine touch before bending a brilliant long-range strike into the net to complete Villa's comeback.
There was plenty of time for either side to find a winner, but chances were at a premium for the remainder of the game, with both sides seemingly content with the draw. There was to be no Hollywood finale, but that didn't matter in what was a great game which both sides will take positives from. There is still the sense that both sides ought to be seeing more points for their play, but they undoubtedly have the talent there to achieve it.
West Bromwich Albion: Myhill, Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Popov (Anichebe 82'), Mulumbu, Yacob, Amalfitano, Sessegnon (Morrison 73'), Brunt, Long.
Goals: Long 3', 11'
Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Clark, Baker, El Ahmadi, Westwood, Sylla (Delph 57'), Tonev (Weimann 57'), Benteke, Kozak (Agbonlahor 57')
Goals: El Ahmadi 67', Westwood 76'