Diangana takes West Brom top
Grady Diangana and Dara O’Shea scored the goals that carried West Brom a step closer to the Premier League on an evening of conflicting fortunes for the Midlands rivals.
Louie Sibley’s injury-time dismissal, after appearing to kick O’Shea between the legs as they tussled on the ground, was Derby’s third red card in four games and adds to manager Phillip Cocu’s headaches following this defeat, their first since February.
But Albion, after a slow return from lockdown, have recorded three straight victories and, despite the form of third-placed Brentford, look to have regained their composure at a critical stage, moving above Leeds, who can regain top place against Stoke tonight.
“Of course we’re nervous, it’s normal to feel the pressure,” said Albion manager Slaven Bilic. “But the only thing we can do is respond to it like we responded tonight. It’s the guys below us that are putting the pressure on us and Leeds. We don’t put the pressure on each other, but of course it’s nice to be back on top of the table. You can talk about game plans but the way they executed it was magnificent. I’m so proud of the boys. That was us in the best possible way.”
Diangana’s seventh goal of the season, and his first since before Christmas, was well worked and superbly finished with an exchange of passes with Kamil Grosicki taking the winger into the Derby area.
Having rounded keeper Ben Hamer, Diangana appeared to have been pushed too wide but, from a difficult angle on the line, somehow managed to squeeze the ball in at the far post.
A second looked inevitable but did not arrive until the 76th minute, when Derby needlessly conceded a corner, which Matheus Pereira played to the near post. O’Shea met it with a powerful header, which beat Hamer at his near post.
Cocu’s displeasure at Sibley’s red card had the manager confirming Derby would appeal, although captain Wayne Rooney had already voiced his disapproval of referee Jeremy Simpson to the fourth official.
“I won’t tell you what he said,” said Cocu. “I know what he was very annoyed about, the same thing we were all annoyed about. It was about how the referee was leading the game – or not leading the game, that’s better said.
“A lot of decisions were very doubtful and to give a red card ... I asked after the game if he was sure it was a kick or a stamp and he was really sure.
“But when I saw the footage after, there was no kick or stamp. That’s just an example. Anybody can have a good or bad day but sometimes you have to take responsibility if it was a nightmare.”