Blackburn Rovers 2-1 West Bromwich Albion: Clinical hosts make Baggies pay for missed chances

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Blackburn maintained their perfect start to the Championship season with a display of clinical finishing to edge out West Brom 2-1.

Albion shaded the game and dominated in spells, but Rovers put them to the sword in ruthless fashion with their only shots on target.

A moment of individual brilliance from Ben Brereton Diaz put Blackburn ahead just before the break and he set up Sam Gallagher to double the advantage two minutes after the restart.

Grady Diangana’s deflected effort gave the Baggies a goal their performance merited, but their profligacy ultimately proved their undoing, summed up by Karlan Grant spurning a glorious opportunity to equalise 11 minutes from time.

Rovers are the only Championship side with a 100 per cent record after winning their first three league games for the first time since 1988.

Seventeen-year-old defender Ashley Phillips was handed his first league start for Rovers in place of the injured Scott Wharton. Albion were unchanged.

The Baggies settled quickest, with Darnell Furlong heading over despite being unmarked before John Swift’s free-kick was punched clear by Thomas Kaminski.

An incisive Rovers move saw a Ryan Hedges cut-back bounce off Jayson Molumby towards his own goal, but David Button was alert and made a fine reflex save.

Image: Blackburn Rovers’ Sam Gallagher celebrates scoring his side’s second goal against West Brom

The visitors ought to have taken the lead in the 17th minute when Jed Wallace superbly controlled on the right before delivering a deep cross for the onrushing Diangana, who directed his header wide from close range.

Wallace struck a 25-yard strike just wide, but Rovers went ahead four minutes before the break with their first shot of the game.

It was one worth waiting for as Brereton Diaz escaped the attentions of Semi Ajayi before superbly curling a left-footed effort into the bottom left corner from 20 yards out.

Blackburn’s merciless finishing continued two minutes after the break.

This time Brereton Diaz turned provider, racing down the left before setting up Gallagher on the edge of the area and he confidently stroked the ball beyond Button into the bottom corner for his first goal this season.

The stunned Baggies stuck to their task, though, and pressure finally told in the 59th minute, even if there was more than a touch of fortune about the goal.

Diangana cut inside and his 25-yard strike took a huge deflection which completely wrong-footed Kaminski.

West Brom continued to pile on the pressure and should have equalised in the 79th minute when Diangana’s inch-perfect cross was met by Grant six yards out, but Kaminski produced a stunning sprawling save to deny the visitors.

Ajayi headed over in the ninth minute of injury time with Kaminski stranded, consigning Albion to their first defeat this season.

What the managers said…

Blackburn’s Jon Dahl Tomasson said: “It was a fantastic result against one of the better sides in the league. It was a great performance.

“We knew with those good players they would ask a lot of questions regarding how to cope with different situations.

“But the players did a tremendous job, they stick together under difficult circumstances. Not only because of the weather, but changes before the game and during the game. But you could see the team spirit.

“We scored two great goals. I would call them PlayStation goals, FIFA goals, if you can say that. One or two touches, lovely to see. Great finishing.

“When we conceded a goal, I thought it’s going to be tough, because West Brom is a good side. It was tough, but I’m happy to see how hard the boys work for the club.

“We are of course proud of winning again, but we’ll work hard to become better.”

West Brom’s Steve Bruce said: “I think we’re like everyone else, we’re a little bit scratching our heads, thinking how the hell have we lost that. We’ve had our chances.

“However, the way we’ve played, I’ve got no complaints. On another day we could have been worthy winners.

“The only thing we have to be better on really, since I’ve arrived at the club, we’ve said too many times, we’re relying too much on Granty (Karlan Grant) to score us a goal. We have to start taking our chances from elsewhere too.

“It’s something we have to improve on.

“But the way the performance was, anybody neutral would have come away and thought how the hell have Blackburn won that. Football at times, that’s why it’s the game we love.

“The way we’ve played, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. We just need to take the chances. We have to be a bit more clinical, that’s my only criticism.”

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