Brilliant Baggies

As part of our Premier League snap-shots, Peter Fraser looks back on the victory over Sunderland which moved West Bromwich Albion into third in the table

Last Updated: 24/11/12 6:23pm

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Zoltan Gera: Scored a long-range effort to give West Brom a lead they never surrendered at Sunderland

Zoltan Gera: Scored a long-range effort to give West Brom a lead they never surrendered at Sunderland

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West Bromwich Albion's dream season continued as they moved up to third with a win over Sunderland, whose manager, Martin O'Neill, is coming under increasing pressure.

Zoltan Gera, Shane Long - capitalising on a dreadful mistake by Simon Mignolet - a Romelu Lukaku penalty and Marc-Antoine Fortune gave the Baggies the points, with Sunderland only responding through Craig Gardner and Stephane Sessegnon.

Sunderland now only sit three points above the relegation zone while West Brom occupy the Champions League places. Here, Sky Sports looks at where the game was won and lost.

Selection

Sunderland boss O'Neill named an unchanged team from the side who won at Fulham last weekend as he looked for back-to-back victories. Gardner had to make do with a seat on the bench on his return from suspension.

West Brom head coach Steve Clarke handed returns to Gareth McAuley and Chris Brunt as they replaced Gabriel Tamas and the injured Youssouf Mulumbu.

Tactics

O'Neill once again selected a side with Steven Fletcher as the focal point and Sessegnon, Sunderland's best player in the defeat, offering support. The plan appeared to be to give the ball to Adam Johnson as much as possible to take on Billy Jones. But the former Manchester City player continues to prove a disappointment since his big-money arrival.

Shane Long maintained his excellent form with another livewire performance in a lone-striking role for West Brom. The Republic of Ireland international's movement and running was a constant problem for Sunderland. The pace of Peter Odemwingie on the right of midfield was also an ever-present threat on the counter-attack.

Substitutions

Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole was forced off shortly after the half-hour through injury and he was replaced by Gardner. O'Neill also had a reshuffle at half-time when the ultimately ineffective James McClean was sent on in place of John O'Shea, with Phil Bardsley moving to centre-back and Sebastian Larsson shifting to right-back. Louis Saha was thrown on to little impact in place of Jack Colback when Sunderland were chasing an equaliser.

Two West Brom substitutes both scored in the form of Lukaku and Fortune, who came on as replacements for Long and Odemwingie, respectively. Tamas was given a late run out in order to offer James Morrison a breather.

Referee

There was some confusion when match official Mike Dean brandished a yellow card in the first half. Sunderland defender O'Shea thought he had received his second caution of the opening 20 minutes and began to leave the field. But he was relieved to discover Dean had harshly booked Long for diving. Cattermole was also fortunate in the first half to not even receive a booking when kicking out at Claudio Yacob following a challenge. The decision to award West Brom their penalty was controversial after it appeared Liam Ridgewell had gone down softly under an albeit clumsy challenge from Johnson.

Main men

Sessegnon, full of confidence after his spectacular goal at Fulham, was Sunderland's main threat and he deserved his goal. But no other Sunderland player can really hold their head high. Goalkeeper Mignolet's blunder to gift Long his goal was a dreadful moment.

The key to West Brom's success so far this season is they do not rely on one star man. Clark has added to the team ethic built by predecessor Roy Hodgson and is reaping the benefits.

Looking ahead

Sunderland need to quickly address their home form. They have won just once at the Stadium of Light in the Premier League this season. Next up are rock-bottom Queens Park Rangers, who will likely be buoyant from the Harry Redknapp feel-good factor. Lose to QPR and Sunderland, and O'Neill, are in trouble ahead of a December fixture list which contains tough home and away meetings with Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.

Games cannot come quickly enough for West Brom as they continue to ride a wave of confidence. Future fixtures against Swansea City, Stoke City, Arsenal, West Ham United and Norwich City will hold no fear.

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