Van La Parra hits screamer as West Brom’s struggles continue
Aesthetic criticisms may be nothing new as far as Tony Pulis is concerned but until now he has always had a counter argument. Results.
However, there is a sense that sentiment is wearing ever thinner with the West Bromwich Albion supporters, particularly after this 1-0 defeat to 10-man Huddersfield left them with their lowest points tally at this stage of a season since 2005-06, when they were relegated.
Albion have suffered five defeats and had four draws since their last victory at Burnley in August and are worryingly embroiled in a relegation battle.
Reverting to type with the deployment of a five-man defence, buttressed by three midfield protectors in Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Grzegorz Krychowiak, Pulis had attempted to stifle Huddersfield.
However, those were blown apart a minute before the interval by a moment of brilliance that was out of tune with the game. Albion were still cursing that a free-kick had been awarded against Jay Rodriguez, when the ball was transferred to Rajiv van La Parra.
The winger assessed his options and delivered a coruscating strike which found the top corner from 25 yards out. Cue pandemonium as memories were stirred from a fortnight ago when Town defeated Manchester United.
“The free-kick is annoying because we think it’s a free-kick that we should have and, from that position, the kid scores a wonder goal,” Pulis said. “It’s an absolutely fantastic strike. When he hit it, I was behind it and thought it was going wide, but it curls right at the end. I think anybody who’s been on a run of games like we have is going to take criticism. I’ve been in the game a long time to know that’s what happens irrespective of who you are or what club you’re at.” Huddersfield had controlled proceedings until Christopher Schindler was dismissed for a second booking in the 57th minute.
While they were thankful for two crucial late interventions from their goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, they more than merited this victory allowing head coach David Wagner to celebrate his two-year anniversary by sprinting from his technical area to embrace his players.
“We’re over the moon, not only because of the result but because of the performance,” Wagner said. “We controlled the game over the first 60 minutes and after the dismissal the players showed that they could do something different as well.”
Huddersfield Town (4-2-3-1) Lossl 7; Hadergjonaj 7, Jorgensen 7, Schindler 5, Malone 6 (Lowe 79); Hogg 7, Mooy 6; Van La Parra 7 (Williams 62), Ince 7, Kachunga 6 (Cranie 61); Depoitre 6. Subs: Green (g), Smith, Quaner, Mounie. Booked Schindler, Williams. Sent off Schindler. West Bromwich Albion (3-5-2) Foster 7; McAuley 7 (Phillips 59), Hegazi 6, Evans 6; Nyom 7, Livermore 6, Krychowiak 6 (Rondon 59), Barry 6, Gibbs 6; Rodriguez 6, Robson-Kanu 6 (McClean 59). Subs Myhill (g), Yacob, Brunt, Chadli. Booked Hegazi, Nyom, Barry, McClean. Referee R East (Wiltshire).
Jump for joy: Rajiv van La Parra (left) is mobbed after scoring the winner