Dian­gana takes West Brom top

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By Ian Whit­tell at the Hawthorns

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.”

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