Friday 24 March 2017

Odemwingie gamble pays off

WEST BROM 1
SUNDERLAND 0

Phil Medlicott

West Brom boss Roberto Di Matteo was delighted to see his gamble pay off after debutant Peter Odemwingie sealed a 1-0 victory over Sunderland.

Odemwingie's transfer to Albion from Lokomotiv Moscow was only confirmed on Friday, with international clearance coming late in the evening to allow him to be included in the squad for yesterday's match.

Di Matteo decided to put the Nigeria forward straight into his starting XI, and Odemwingie responded in fine style, notching the winner nine minutes from time.

"He only trained once with us [on Friday] so it was a bit of a gamble," Di Matteo said. "But we thought we would throw him in at the deep end and see how long he would last, and he certainly gave us a threat up front.

"He is not only an individual, but also a team player. We can see that he is a quality player. He scored the goal too, which was great for him."

Odemwingie was immediately in the thick of the action at the Hawthorns and missed the target from a decent opportunity after eight minutes. He also saw a powerful strike rebound off Paulo da Silva with a quarter of an hour remaining, but made no mistake in the 81st minute as he collected James Morrison's pass and slid a low shot under Black Cats goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

The victory marked a spirited response from the Baggies, who had started the day bottom of the Premier League table after they were thrashed 6-0 at Chelsea last week.

Sunderland had to take in another bad result on the road, and after seeing the Wearsiders collect only 10 points on their travels last season, manager Steve Bruce believes his players need to change their mentality for away fixtures.

"In the first half we simply weren't good enough. We have to improve," said Bruce. "We were a different team from the one that took Birmingham on last week [at the Stadium of Light]. Mentality is what it is, and we have to try to change that if we are going to improve and take the club forward."

Bruce expects first-choice goalkeeper Craig Gordon -- who has been sidelined with a broken arm -- to be back in action again in two to three weeks, while Irish midfielder Andy Reid should be in contention for Tuesday's Carling Cup game against Colchester after recovering from his hamstring injury.

Sunday Independent

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