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West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Middlesbrough: Tony Pulis' return to Hawthorns ends in win

Britt Assombalonga has scored 11 goals in 28 games for Middlesbrough this season
Britt Assombalonga has scored 11 goals in 28 games for Middlesbrough this season

Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis backed West Bromwich Albion to maintain their promotion challenge despite his side completing a seasonal double over them with victory at The Hawthorns.

Albion came from behind to lead 2-1, before Britt Assombalonga's double gave Pulis victory on his first return to the club who sacked him in November 2017.

"West Brom have probably got more players in their team who are capable of playing Premier League football than any other team in the league," said the Welshman.

"I still expect them to be there or thereabouts come the final weeks of the season.

"They have a great young manager - Darren [Moore] is a fabulous lad. I wish them all the best, but I don't want them to finish above Middlesbrough."

Pulis oversaw a transformation in his side as substitute Assombalonga came on in the closing stages and scored twice in eight minutes to turn the game around.

Earlier, George Saville's neat finish into the bottom corner gave Middlesbrough the lead, while Jay Rodriguez hit back for Albion just before half-time when he reacted to turn in Rekeem Harper's shot.

Dwight Gayle put the hosts ahead after the break with a deflected shot but Assombalonga equalised with a low strike, before capitalising on Chris Brunt's poor clearance to fire home and give them victory.

Tony Pulis
Tony Pulis produced a rare show of emotion at the final whistle

Of Albion's three deadline-day signings, Jacob Murphy and Jefferson Montero started on the bench, while Stefan Johansen was omitted.

Murphy, Montero, Gayle, Tosin Adarabioyo and Mason Holgate were all part of Albion's squad, meaning Johansen could not be named as teams can only include five loanees on a matchday.

Middlesbrough, by contrast, were unable to add to their squad on transfer deadline day, although they did bring in former Chelsea midfielder Jon Mikel Obi and winger Rajiv van La Parra on loan from Huddersfield during the window.

"That's a disappointment for everybody but we've got a great, resilient group. The thing we've got to do is play with a little more confidence and a little bit more freedom, like we did today, at home," Pulis told BBC Tees.

Pulis went over to applaud the travelling Boro fans at the end of the game and added: "It meant a lot because there's been a real negative feeling around the place in respect of us not bringing players in and I just wanted to say thank you for supporting the lads and that's what we need, irrespective of whether we bring them in or we don't."

Going into the game, he held an enviable record of winning his past five games at The Hawthorns without conceding a goal.

However, after Saville's early strike gave Boro the lead, Rodriguez and Gayle's goals ensured the visitors would have to fight back to win their second successive Championship away match and draw level on points with their opponents.

The result meant West Brom slipped to fourth in the Championship table, four points below the top two, with Middlesbrough below them on goal difference only.

West Bromwich Albion manager Darren Moore told BBC WM 95.6:

"Obviously to be 2-1 up with about 15 minutes to go, we are disappointed to lose the game having got our noses in front but that's football and you have to be switched-on to every situation.

"They changed their system and threw players on and the gamble paid off for them. It feels raw now but it can't stop us in terms of what we have built so far and it's important that we learn from it.

"I won't look at individuals because we score as a team and concede as a team. We have to stay together and make sure we don't let it repeat itself.

"Teams come here, get players behind the ball and frustrate us; we aren't going to be given anything on a plate. It's up to us to find ways to win."

Line-ups

West Brom

  • 1Johnstone
  • 68HolgateBooked at 39mins
  • 25Dawson
  • 26Hegazi
  • 3Gibbs
  • 34Harper
  • 18BarrySubstituted forLivermoreat 78'minutes
  • 28FieldSubstituted forBruntat 83'minutes
  • 4Robson-KanuSubstituted forMurphyat 74'minutes
  • 19Rodriguez
  • 16Gayle

Substitutes

  • 5Bartley
  • 8Livermore
  • 11Brunt
  • 15Montero
  • 23Bond
  • 24Adarabioyo
  • 70Murphy

Middlesbrough

  • 23Randolph
  • 5ShottonBooked at 55mins
  • 4Ayala
  • 24Flint
  • 20FrySubstituted forAssombalongaat 65'minutes
  • 3Friend
  • 26WingBooked at 46mins
  • 2MikelSubstituted forvan La Parraat 75'minutes
  • 37BesicSubstituted forHowsonat 54'minutes
  • 22SavilleBooked at 36mins
  • 11HugillBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 1Konstantopoulos
  • 8Clayton
  • 9Assombalonga
  • 16Howson
  • 17McNair
  • 19Downing
  • 29van La Parra
Referee:
Tim Robinson
Attendance:
24,863

Match Stats

Home TeamWest BromAway TeamMiddlesbrough
Possession
Home67%
Away33%
Shots
Home19
Away14
Shots on Target
Home6
Away5
Corners
Home9
Away1
Fouls
Home6
Away21

Live Text

Match ends, West Bromwich Albion 2, Middlesbrough 3.

Full Time

Second Half ends, West Bromwich Albion 2, Middlesbrough 3.

Booking

Jordan Hugill (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Mason Holgate (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Jordan Hugill (Middlesbrough).

Attempt blocked. Kieran Gibbs (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match George Saville (Middlesbrough) because of an injury.

Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Darren Randolph.

Attempt saved. Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Ahmed Hegazi with a headed pass.

Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Ryan Shotton.

Attempt blocked. Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Chris Brunt with a cross.

Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Aden Flint.

Attempt missed. Jacob Murphy (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jordan Hugill (Middlesbrough).

Attempt blocked. Jordan Hugill (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Britt Assombalonga.

Jacob Murphy (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Lewis Wing (Middlesbrough).

Goal!

Goal! West Bromwich Albion 2, Middlesbrough 3. Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner following a set piece situation.

Substitution

Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Chris Brunt replaces Sam Field.

Foul by Dwight Gayle (West Bromwich Albion).

Rajiv van La Parra (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt missed. Jonny Howson (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right.

Attempt missed. Jonny Howson (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.

Substitution

Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Jake Livermore replaces Gareth Barry.

Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Darren Randolph.

Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Lewis Wing.

Goal!

Goal! West Bromwich Albion 2, Middlesbrough 2. Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jordan Hugill.

Substitution

Substitution, Middlesbrough. Rajiv van La Parra replaces John Obi Mikel.

Substitution

Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Jacob Murphy replaces Hal Robson-Kanu.

Foul by Jay Rodriguez (West Bromwich Albion).

Jonny Howson (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, West Bromwich Albion. Sam Johnstone tries a through ball, but Hal Robson-Kanu is caught offside.

Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough).

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Ahmed Hegazi.

Attempt blocked. George Saville (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ryan Shotton.

Attempt missed. Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Sam Field following a set piece situation.

Hal Robson-Kanu (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Norwich30169557391857
2Leeds30176750341657
3Sheff Utd30166850311954
4West Brom29148759382150
5Middlesbrough291311534221250
6Bristol City2913883729847
7Derby2913884035547
8Birmingham30101374536943
9Aston Villa30101375346743
10Hull30127114338543
11Blackburn30111094246-443
12Nottm Forest30101284235742
13Swansea30118114037341
14QPR29116123541-639
15Stoke30911103339-638
16Sheff Wed29108113445-1138
17Brentford29910104841737
18Preston30910114545037
19Wigan3095163145-1432
20Millwall2979133444-1030
21Rotherham30511142848-2026
22Reading30510153244-1225
23Bolton3058171945-2623
24Ipswich3039182351-2818
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