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Barclays Premier League

The Hawthorns (ATT 23,854) 22nd September 2012 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: C Foy

W Brom West Bromwich Albion vs Reading Reading

W Brom 1

R Lukaku (71)

ft

Loan star Lukaku sinks Royals

Baggies strike post as Royals fail to convert ambitious effort

Last Updated: 22/09/12 5:37pm

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Romelu Lukaku: The Belgian found space on the edge of the box to convert the winner for West Brom.

Romelu Lukaku: The Belgian found space on the edge of the box to convert the winner for West Brom.

Romelu Lukaku marked his first start for West Brom with a goal to see off a resilient Reading side.

The Belgian was dangerous all game using his pace to the Baggies' full advantage and finally his tenacity paid off when second-half substitutes Graham Dorrans and Shane Long combined to release the forward who shifted the ball on to his left and drilled it past an impressive Alex McCarthy.

The hosts had the better of the chances with Jonas Olsson striking the post with a first-half header and James Morrison forcing a top drawer save out of McCarthy with a powerful effort.

Reading's efforts were few and far between with Pavel Pogrebnyak and Adam Le Fondre often struggling for service and Jobi McAnuff becoming increasingly frustrated with referee Chris Foy for waving away two penalty decisions.

Garath McCleary could have had the goal of the season if his overhead kick was a shade either side of Ben Foster who ended up collecting the audacious effort comfortably.

Man of the match: Tough decision for me because Romelu Lukaku was tenacious and deserving of his goal, Chris Brunt was dangerous as was James Morrison, but Alex McCarthy's saves for Reading kept the score down - he was inspired today - he'd be my pick of the match. Moment of the match: Steve Clarke brought on Graham Dorrans and Shane Long in the second half who had a hand in the goal and ultimately changed the game. Save of the match: Alex McCarthy pulled off a blinding save from an equally brilliant James Morrison volley in the second-half. Talking point: The substitutions paid off but in my eyes Lukaku needed a strike partner and none more so than former Royals hitman Shane Long - will Clarke stick with his main man?

It was quite an eyebrow-raiser when West Brom chief Steve Clarke left out Long against his former club in favour of Lukaku - on loan from Chelsea - however, the gamble appears to have paid off as the Baggies finished off a trio of wins in their opening three home fixtures in the top flight for the first time in 58 years.

Albion were the more threatening for long periods against Brian McDermott's side despite not firing on all cylinders.

Morrison impressed in midfield and put in a man of the match performance, as Lukaku posed problems with his pace and power before delivering the killer touch.

It leaves Reading still searching for their first win since returning to the Premier League and West Brom keeper Foster was untroubled throughout the 90 minutes.

Albion started brightly and Reading defender Chris Gunter had to react quickly to cut-out a Lukaku flick-on intended to pick out skipper Chris Brunt.

Dangerous

Lukaku skipped past the challenge of Kaspars Gorkss and drilled a dangerous low ball across the box but Danny Guthrie was alert to the situation before a Baggies player could connect.

Brunt produced the first serious attempt on goal with Royals 'keeper McCarthy turning his low 25-yard drive around the post at full stretch.

Reading threatened when McCleary attempted an overhead kick which contained plenty of power but flew straight into the arms of Foster.

Lukaku continued to pose a threat in his lone man position up top and McCarthy finger-tipped away a floated cross at full stretch steered towards Brunt at the far post.

Albion looked the more likely to score and Morrison found space in the box after exchanging passes with Zoltan Gera but he scuffed his right-footed shot across the face of goal.

Morrison seemed in two minds whether to shoot or pass when he got in behind the Reading defence and his eventual chip was too high for Lukaku, which summed up a disappointing opening half.

The nearest either side came to scoring in that period came at the end of the first-half when Albion defender Olsson saw his header hit the woodwork from a Brunt corner.

Albion continued on the offensive after the break with Gera having a shot charged down.

Baggies defender Liam Ridgewell vented his anger at Pavel Pogrebnyak after feeling the striker had gone down too easily under a challenge in what seemed a rather frustrating afternoon for both sides in the stop-start encounter.

Fierce

McCarthy had to be alert to push aside a fierce dipping volley from Morrison as West Brom looked the more likely to break the deadlock.

Former Albion defender Nicky Shorey floated a trademark left-footed free-kick wide in his first start since rejoining Reading during the summer.

West Brom fans chanted Long's name before he was introduced after 65 minutes - and six minutes later he had played his part in the winner against a side he spent six seasons with.

Another substitute in the shape of Dorrans floated a ball into the box which was knocked by back by Long to Lukaku who steadied himself before driving a low shot past the dive of McCarthy.

Reading tried to respond and substitute Hal Robson-Kanu peeled off at the far post and got on the end of a McCleary cross.

But his header landed on the roof of the net and the home side comfortably saw out time in the closing stages.

West Bromwich AlbionTeam StatisticsReading
1Goals0
01st Half Goals0
4Shots on Target1
6Shots off Target6
1Blocked Shots3
9Corners1
15Fouls7
1Offsides1
1Yellow Cards0
0Red Cards0
78.1Passing Success76.1
11Tackles14
81.8Tackles Success71.4
53.3Possession46.7
49Territorial Advantage51
438Total Passes373
29Total Crosses33
172Lost Balls155
58Recoveries25
57.91st Half Poss.42.1
49.52nd Half Poss.50.5

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Matches

Table

Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 18 45
2 Manchester City 18 42
3 Manchester United 18 35
4 Southampton 18 32
5 West Ham United 18 31
6 Arsenal 18 30
7 Tottenham Hotspur 18 30
8 Swansea City 18 28
9 Liverpool 18 25
10 Newcastle United 18 23
11 Stoke City 18 22
12 Everton 18 21
13 Aston Villa 18 20
14 Sunderland 18 19
15 West Bromwich Albion 18 17
16 Queens Park Rangers 18 17
17 Hull City 18 16
18 Crystal Palace 18 15
19 Burnley 18 15
20 Leicester City 18 10

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