Loan star Lukaku sinks Royals
Baggies strike post as Royals fail to convert ambitious effort
Last Updated: 22/09/12 5:37pm
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.
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.
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.
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 Albion||Team Statistics||Reading|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||1|
|6||Shots off Target||6|
|57.9||1st Half Poss.||42.1|
|49.5||2nd Half Poss.||50.5|
Barclays Premier League
|9||West Ham United||35||47|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||35||40|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||35||27|
West Brom v Reading
Brian McDermott was disappointed in the way his Reading side conceded late against West Brom.
Steve Clarke hailed his striking pair of Romelu Lukaku and Shane Long after they combined to help West Brom to a 1-0 win over Reading.
Speaking after Reading's 1-0 loss at West Brom, manager Brian McDermott said that there were positives to take from the game.