West Bromwich Albion went top of the Championship table as they battered Sheffield United at The Hawthorns.
In a meeting of two of last season’s relegated Premier League teams, Albion’s physical dominance showed they have so far adjusted better to life back at this level under new boss Valerien Ismael.
Three of Albion’s four goals came from aerial set pieces, triggered just as they were against Luton on Saturday by a headed opening own goal from a Darnell Furlong long throw.
After Jack Robinson headed past Michael Verrips, an error from the Dutch keeper – on his first league start – then led to an early second-half goal for Dara O’Shea before summer signing Alex Mowatt bagged a third six minutes later.
And when another Furlong throw led to Callum Robinson’s third goal in four games on 59 minutes, that was enough to take the Baggies above Fulham on goal difference.
Sheffield United on the other hand are still without a league goal this season and have only picked up a point from Saturday’s goalless draw at Swansea.
Verrips was making his first league start for the Blades after being brought in to replace England keeper Aaron Ramsdale, who is on the brink of a move to Arsenal.
And it turned into a baptism of fire – and evening to forget – from the moment Robinson met Furlong’s throw off balance and produced an almost carbon copy of Luton skipper Kal Naismith’s own goal at the weekend.
On Saturday, Albion went 3-0 up, then nearly let it slip, but there was to be no repeat this time as they scored three times in 12 second-half minutes.
From Mowatt’s right-wing corner, Verrips got a palm to it, then flapped under heavy pressure from Matt Clarke – and defender O’Shea had the composure to force home his second goal in three games.
Mowatt then began and finished the move for the third strike. He won the ball in the air, found Robinson and raced into the box for the return pass from Karlan Grant before coolly sidefooting past Verrips.
Robinson then completed the scoring just before the hour when Verrips was blocked in his attempt to reach another Furlong throw and Kyle Bartley’s flick-on left the Albion striker in space to finish from close range.
West Brom head coach Valerien Ismael told BBC Radio WM:
“We’ve got so many positives to take. We were strong, focused, disciplined and kept a clean sheet.
“We kept the intensity for the full 90 minutes. And we gave the fans that joy to create the atmosphere we need.
“We want them to help make this an unpleasant place for away teams to come.”
Sheffield United manager Slavisa Jokanovic told BBC Radio Sheffield:
“They won the physical battle. If we can’t win the second ball, then that is going to be a problem for us.
“We knew how they would play but we did not react.
“We paid an expensive price and I was disappointed with the way we played with the ball.”
- 16ClarkeSubstituted forReachat 83′minutes
- 11DianganaSubstituted forPhillipsat 56′minutes
- 8LivermoreSubstituted forAjayiat 77′minutes
- 32De Castro
- 8BergeSubstituted forFreemanat 72′minutes
- 17McGoldrickBooked at 30minsSubstituted forMcBurnieat 57′minutes
- 10SharpSubstituted forBurkeat 57′minutes
Match ends, West Bromwich Albion 4, Sheffield United 0.
Second Half ends, West Bromwich Albion 4, Sheffield United 0.
Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Adam Reach (West Bromwich Albion).
Attempt missed. Semi Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the right following a corner.
Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by John Fleck.
Attempt missed. Matt Phillips (West Bromwich Albion) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Karlan Grant with a cross.
Foul by Luke Freeman (Sheffield United).
Dara O’Shea (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Luke Freeman (Sheffield United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Kyle Bartley (West Bromwich Albion).
Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Adam Reach replaces Matthew Clarke because of an injury.
Attempt missed. Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Oliver Norwood with a cross following a set piece situation.
George Baldock (Sheffield United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Conor Townsend (West Bromwich Albion).
Ben Osborn (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Alex Mowatt (West Bromwich Albion).
Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Semi Ajayi replaces Jake Livermore.
Foul by Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United).
Darnell Furlong (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.