Albion miss out in five-goal thriller
IMPROVING Albion gave champions Chelsea a run for their money before finishing the wrong side of a five-goal thriller at The Hawthorns.
Another incident-packed game between these two teams saw James Morrison miss a penalty before scoring twice and Chelsea suffering a red card for the second Hawthorns visit running.
But a 3-1 half time lead was just enough to sustain them after the loss of John Terry for denying Saloman Rondon a goalscoring opportunity early in the first half.
Still, Tony Pulis and his players will take heart that they are beginning to gather momentum in these early Barclays Premier League exchanges which has seen the two title favourites – Manchester City and Chelsea – open the Hawthorns schedule.
Rondon and Callum McManaman started for the first time and helped Albion produce their most up-tempo football of the three games so far - but by half time the champions had opened a 3-1 lead with some soft goals.
That followed a missed penalty from Morrison in the 13th minute after McManaman – who logged a man of the match performance - had been tripped by Nemanja Matic. Mozza went for a fierce execution down the centre but Thibaut Courtois foiled him with an outstretched leg.
Chelsea then took command with Pedro and Costa striking before the half hour only for Morrison to pull Albion right back in it with a 35th minute finish after great work by Chris Brunt, James McClean and Rondon in the build-up.
But the Baggies let down their guard again three minutes before the break for Cesar Azpilicueta to restore Chelsea’s two-goal advantage.
Albion kept coming, however, and when Rondon’s power forced Terry into holding him back as he attempted to collect a superb Chris Brunt pass, Chelsea were down to 10 men with more than half an hour remaining.
McManaman came up with the cross that saw Mozza glance a clever header just before the hour and Albion looked on for a point at least.
McManaman missed by a whisker with a wonderful effort in the 72nd minute and right up to the finish Albion were threatening a goal with Courtois denying Rondon.
But Chelsea hung on leaving the Baggies to measure no reward but the signs of a team beginning to find its form.
Albion: Myhill, Dawson, McAuley, Olsson, Brunt, McManaman (Gnabry 77), Morrison (Gardner 88), Fletcher (c), Yacob, McClean (Lambert 60), Rondon. Subs: Rose, Chester, Lescott, Gardner, Gnabry, Anichebe, Lambert
Booking: McManaman (dissent 70);
Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Matic, Fabregas; Pedro (Mikel 84), Willian (Cahill 54) Hazard; Diego Costa (Falcao 77). Subs: Begovic, Cahill, Mikel, Loftus-Cheek, Traore, Remy, Falcao.
Bookings: Matic (foul, 16).
Sent off: Terry (denying goalscoring opportunity 54).
Referee Mark Clattenburg (Durham).
Albion Man of the Match: McManaman