There was no shortage of late drama at The Hawthorns as West Bromwich Albion and Cardiff City produced a thrilling 3-3 draw.
Substitute Thievy Bifouma looked to have snatched three points late on for West Brom, who led 2-0 after just 10 minutes, before Mats Daehli, who also came off the bench, levelled at the death to salvage a precious point and stop West Brom from distancing themselves from the bottom three.
Morgan Amalfitano and Graham Dorrans had eased any nerves around The Hawthorns early on as Pepe Mel's side looked on course to give their fans a rare performance to cheer. However, Jordon Mutch and Steven Caulker found the net in an impressive comeback for the visitors, who then showed character to deny Albion again in a breathtaking finale.
Mel had described the game as a "final" in the build-up and his side were certainly up for the big occasion, as Amalfitano put West Brom ahead with a lob from an audacious angle early on. The Marseille loanee conjured up a delightful effort to break the deadlock with the West Brom faithful on their feet again soon after when Dorrans doubled the lead. Amalfitano was again involved as his lofted delivery found its way to the Scot, who slid the ball home to put his side in control.
Mutch, the scorer of two goals in Cardiff’s 6-3 defeat by Liverpool last weekend, was on target again to reduce the deficit as his lofted effort caught out Ben Foster before the interval. Captain Caulker looked to have got the crucial goal 17 minutes from time but the late drama continued in a game neither side could afford to lose.
Thievy secured home what looked the winner, but Daehli earned the visitors a potentially vital point that keeps their survival hopes alive while Mel will be left to rue West Brom's inability to capitalise on their strong start.
Mel's side made an ideal start when Amalfitano produced a lob of the highest quality to take David Marshall completely by surprise after just two minutes. His effort came from a nigh-on impossible angle outside the area, but the Frenchman lifted the pressure around The Hawthorns with arguably one of the goals of West Brom's season.
Cardiff's visit to the West Midlands got worse just seven minutes later when Dorrans burst into the area and finished Matej Vydra's knockdown. It capped off a nightmare opening 10 minutes for Cardiff, who were not allowed to settle by their rampant hosts.
Fraizer Campbell almost got on the end of Andrew Taylor's delivery from the left as a shell-shocked Cardiff gradually grew into the game, without showing enough of the attacking threat that saw them twice lead title hopefuls Liverpool last week. Out of the blue, Foster was caught out by a looped effort from Mutch just after the half-hour mark. The end of the half played out with relatively few opportunities before Mel was left frustrated by missed chances from Youssouf Mulumbu, Vydra and James Morrison.
The visitors too failed to muster too many opportunities of note until Caulker angled a looping header over Foster. In dramatic fashion, West Brom thought Thievy had secured them the three points before Daehli struck to cap off an exhilarating affair at the foot of the table.
West Bromwich Albion manager Pepe Mel: "With both (teams) looking for the same things and both teams looking for the win I think frankly today West Brom were better.
"A wrong decision was made today, we were 3-2 up with just 30 seconds remaining and that should have been the end of the game. Saido's (Berahino) a young player and went in search of a fourth goal instead of taking the ball in the corner. But he will learn from this.
"The spirits in the changing room at the minute are quite bad. The fans will see that we played a good game and the result should have been a better one really.
"We really needed the three points and we really had the opportunity to get those points. The fact we have drawn is down to our own errors."
Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer: "We started really, really badly - I have never seen us so pedestrian. We might as well have just sat in with the fans, then maybe we would have woken up quicker.
"But the reaction was magnificent and it says it all about the team and the supporters who sucked the ball in for us.
"I'm so happy for the players and fans that we got the goal we deserved because we did not deserve to lose that game. I think it can be (a turning point) because we've been waiting 32 games to get that luck and finally we've got it.
"To get a point was very important because to have picked them up after a defeat would have been difficult. If we had lost this game then West Brom are away from us and we would not have been able to claw them back."
|12 Apr 2014||v Spurs (H)|
|21 Apr 2014||v Man City (A)|
|11 May 2014||v Stoke (H)|
|05 Apr 2014||v Norwich (A)|
|26 Apr 2014||v West Ham (H)|
|07 May 2014||v Sunderland (A)|