Keinan Davis’ late strike surely ended West Brom’s chances of staying in the Premier League as Aston Villa snatched a 2-2 draw against the Baggies.
Villa took the lead after nine minutes when Anwar El-Ghazi slotted home a penalty after Ross Barkley went down under negligible contact from Semi Ajayi, but Albion got back on level terms midway through the half after a similarly slight foul from Ezri Konsa on Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Matheus Pereira's typically assured finish from the spot.
An error from Konsa let in Mbaye Diagne shortly after half time and his effort drifting just wide of the far post was diverted under Emiliano Martinez by Tyrone Mings' outstretched leg.
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But the visitors were denied in the final minute. Ollie Watkins kept a deep cross in play and Kyle Bartley controlled the ball on his chest, expecting Sam Johnstone to claim the ball, but Davis nipped in to divert the ball into the net.
TALKING POINT - How high can Pereira go?
Matheus Pereira turns 25 in May which seems certainly to be his last month playing in a West Brom shirt and it will be interesting to see where he next lands.
The Brazilian and Bruno Fernandes battled for the same spot at Sporting Lisbon a few seasons ago and his quality is such that maybe only the Footballer of the Year candidate and Kevin De Bruyne are his Premier League peers at dead-ball delivery. He has his flaws, Matt Targett at times was given the freedom of the left flank as he would not track back all the way and many managers will not accept a luxury player who will not work to his side’s system.
Perhaps more suited to an age where managers did not expect a Ferrari to plough the field, but it feels there should be a place for him in one of the top sides in the Premier League. Maybe the new manager (or managers) in north London will see him as an asset capable of helping their sides to a top-four finish, otherwise he might be the fan-favourite for a side further down the table or a Champions League dangerman for one of the club’s just outside the prospective Super league candidates.
Whatever the case, Albion fans will mourn that they have been denied the joy of watching more than half of his games up close in his two-year stay at The Hawthorns.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Matheus Pereira (West Brom)
Anwar El-Ghazi was classy for Villa in a similar role at the other end of the pitch but there can be no doubt who the best player on the pitch was. The highlights package moment was when facing the corner flag he backheeled to bypass Matt Targett before cutting the ball back for Maitland-Niles to shoot at goal.
The first half also saw two perfect free kicks that deserved goals. A centre from deep on the left which Okay Yokoslu should have headed home and then from the angle of the penalty area where his shot came back off the crossbar.
Add this to numerous through-balls, a delicious swerving effort and another successful penalty and you have a fantastic all-round display
Aston Villa: Martinez 6, El Mohamady 7, Mings 5, Konsa 5, Targett 7; Luiz 6, McGinn 6, Barkley 7, Traore 6, Watkins 6, El Ghazi 7. Subs: Ramsey 6, Davis 8, Wesley 6.
West Brom: Johnstone 7; Furlong 6, Ajayi 5, Bartley 5, Townsend 7; Yokuslu 6, Maitland-Niles 7, Gallagher 6, Pereira 8*, Robinson 7; Diagne 6. Sub: Phillips 6, O’Shea 6.
8' PENALTY! El-Ghazi sees his effort blocked and then Barkley went down under the challenge of Ajayi.
9' GOAL FOR VILLA! El-Ghazi sends Johnstone the wrong way and Villa are in front.
22' PENALTY FOR WEST BROM! Maitland-Niles goes down in the area. Another soft decision and maybe clumsy defending to give the player the chance to go over.
23' GOAL FOR WEST BROM! Pereira drives the ball above Martinez's dive to his left into the roof of the net.
42' Pereira curls a ball towards the back post and sees it come back off the crossbar. He's been the best player by a street here.
47' GOAL FOR WEST BROM! Konsa's mistake from Johnstone's long kick lets in Diagne and his shot is deflected in off Mings.
63' Traore runs at Townsend who keeps him out on his weaker right foot and from the tightest of angles near the by-line he swings his swinger at the ball and sees it come off the outside of the post.
90+2' GOAL FOR VILLA! Olly Watkins kept a deep cross in play and Kyle Bartley controlled the ball on his chest, expecting Johnstone to claim the ball, but Davis nipped in to divert the ball into the net.
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