Tony Pulis off to winning league start
SAIDO Berahino’s sixth goal in ten days for Albion secured a crucial 1-0 Barclays Premier League victory over Hull.
The England international, who followed up his New Year’s Day strike at West Ham with four FA Cup goals against Gateshead, fired home the dramatic 78th-minute winner before celebrating with a rapturous Hawthorns crowd.
Allan McGregor picked up Ahmed Elmohamady close-range back pass inside the penalty area and Berahino, ten yards out at an angle, drilled home low from substitute Victor Anichebe’s lay-off.
It ensured head coach Tony Pulis secured all three points in what was his first league game at the helm and made it two wins from two after last weekend’s 7-0 success over non-league Gateshead.
Victory could have been more comfortable for the Baggies, who saw Brown Ideye drag a first-half shot wide when sent clean through and Berahino spurn a couple of half-chances.
But all that was forgotten come the full-time whistle as Berahino’s 14th goal of the season in all competitions secured only a third league win in 15 attempts.
Albion showed five changes from the side who progressed in the FA Cup last Saturday, Pulis handing recalls to Ideye, Ben Foster, Joleon Lescott, Andre Wisdom and Claudio Yacob.
After a tight opening to proceedings, the 24,818 present had to wait until the 18th minute for the first clear-cut opening – Berahino pulling his shot wide from 12 yards following a neat one-two with Stephane Sessegnon.
The England international forced Tigers goalkeeper McGregor into two saves either side of the half-hour mark.
Hull were dealt a blow before the break, losing both strikers Nikica Jelavic and Abel Hernandez to injury.
And it was substitute Robbie Brady who saw his fierce half-volley tipped over the crossbar by Foster.
But Ideye enjoyed the best chance of the first half just before the interval having been sent clear by Berahino, but he could only drag his shot wide of McGregor’s right-hand post.
The impressive Berahino sent a teasing ball across the face of goal just minutes after the restart but no Albion shirt could connect.
Gareth McAuley headed wide at the back post from Chris Baird’s searching free-kick in the 70th minute.
Anichebe and Craig Gardner were both introduced shortly after and the former was involved in the game’s only goal.
Elmohamady inadvertently touched back to McGregor, who picked the ball up inside his area, leaving Anichebe to lay the ball off to Berahino and he did the rest.
Albion: Foster, Wisdom, McAuley, Lescott, Baird, Yacob, Morrison, Brunt, Sessegnon (Gardner 76’), Berahino, Ideye (Anichebe 73’).
Subs: Myhill, Pocognoli, Dawson, Dorrans, Samaras.
GOAL: Berahino (78’)
BOOKED: Yacob (foul 35’)
Hull: McGregor, Figueroa, Bruce, Chester, Davies, Meyler, Hernandez (Ince 39’), Livermore, Jelavic (Brady 33’), Elmohamady, Quinn (Huddlestone 79’).
Subs: Harper, Maguire, McShane, Dawson.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)
Albion star man: Saido Berahino