Baggies move on to 40 points as Leko makes league debut
ALBION reached the fabled 40-point mark with a gritty - and ultimately goalless - display that frustrated relegation-threatened Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
A match the Baggies will remember principally for the Barclays Premier League debut of Jonathan Leko 12 minutes from time failed to deliver many penalty area highlights despite the noisy backing of the home fans.
There was no fairytale end to a memorable moment for Albion’s England Under-17 star but the blooding will have whetted his appetite for even more game time as this season winds down.
After Albion’s tepid showing against Norwich City in their previous outing, the Baggies certainly backed up Head Coach Tony Pulis’s pledge for a fully committed performance.
The Baggies had plenty of the game, especially in the first half, but struggled to convert that into a goal threat and as the match wore on it was Sunderland who strove desperately for a breakthrough.
But they ran into a typically resistant Albion defence and some terrific goalkeeping from Ben Foster.
Twice he denied Fabio Borini with flying saves before stifling the cheers of expectation from Sunderland fans as Jermain Defoe burst through in the dying minutes with a point-blank stop.
For the Baggies, there were superb performances across the back four and a hard-fought 90 minutes from loan-signing Sandro alongside the in-form Claudio Yacob in midfield.
SUNDERLAND: Mannone, Yedlin, Kaboul, Kone, van Aanholt, Kirchhoff, Cattermole, M’Vila, Khazri (N’Doye 81), Borini, Defoe.
Subs: Jones, Larsson, Rodwell, Pickford, O’Shea, Toivonen.
Bookings: Kaboul (18, foul)
ALBION: Foster; Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Chester; Gardner (McClean 70), Yacob, Sandro, Fletcher, Berahino (Leko 78); Rondon (Anichebe 81).
Subs: Myhill, Olsson, Lambert, Pritchard.
Bookings: Gardner (47, dissent)
Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire)
Albion Star Man: Ben Foster