West Bromwich Albion vs. Sunderland: Final score 2-1, Lukaku brace sees Baggies triumph

Chris Brunskill

Romelu Lukaku scored in both halves as West Bromwich Albion picked up the points in a 2-1 victory over Sunderland.

The hosts began the match on the back foot, and Sunderland were only too happy to exploit poor play from the Baggies midfielders. Claudio Yacub was the worst offending, and a misplaced pass from the Argentine saw Steven Fletcher free at the top of the box. The striker's low shot was a few coats of paint from finding the back of the net, thumping off the base of Ben Foster's right hand post, with Danny Graham failing to convert the rebound.

But that 24th-minute episode sparked West Brom into life, and they came roaring at the Black Cats defence for the rest of the half. Youssuf Mulumbu should have put them ahead 1-0 after Liam Ridgewell's superb cross found him unmarked at the edge of the six-yard box only to head wide, and Romelu Lukaku's perfectly good goal was disallowed thanks to Seb Larsson's foul on Steven Morrisson. Nevermind advantage, eh, ref.

It's not out of the question that Roger East was attempting to make up for his error shortly when he called a penalty on Craig Gardner shortly thereafter. It didn't seem particularly plausible for the right back to have moved his arm out of the way of Chris Brunt's cross, but the whistle blew immediately nonetheless, and Lukaku stroke home the spot kick to make it 1-0 to West Brom.

Sunderland had a chance to equalise shortly after halftime when a corner-kick induced scramble left Foster completely exposed, and Stephane Sessegnon's weak, off-balance snap shot was only kept out by the presence of Mulumbu on the back post.

West Brom were still in control, however, and they had opportunities to go further ahead through the impressive Lukaku, who had a trio of close calls before he was finally able to net again -- albeit in somewhat fortunate fashion. There was nothing lucky about the way he blew past John O'Shea on the wing, but Titus Bramble's poor backpass combined with Simon Mignolet's saw the ball ricochet off the big Belgian from point-blank range and bounce straight in.

The visitors responded well, however, and Sessgnon had a fine effort kept out by Foster before finally finding the back of the net from 15 yards as the West Brom defence failed to clear their lines. That should have set up a grandstand finish, but it was the Baggies who looked closer to scoring again, and Mignolet was called into action with a fantastic save from Brunt following another Bramble error.

There were a couple of close calls on Foster's goal, and James McClean might have gone better when he was allowed a last-second volley from ten yards which he ballooned over, but it came as no surprise at all when East blew the whistle for full time and gave West Brom a well-earned win.

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