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Published: 19:46 | 27/2/16

Baggies survive Palace recovery

West Brom victorious at Hawthorns

West Bromwich Albion hung on to beat Crystal Palace 3-2 in the Premier League at The Hawthorns.

Craig Gardner tapped in early on for the Baggies, with Craig Dawson soon heading in the second, before Saido Berahino volleyed home from a superb Stephane Sessegnon delivery.

However, an otherwise excellent first half for the hosts was blighted by Chris Brunt being stretchered from the field with a potentially serious knee injury.

Connor Wickham pounced on a Jonas Olsson error to give Palace hope at the beginning of the second period, before the visitors ought to have been awarded a penalty for a shove by Gareth McAuley on Scott Dann.

Yannick Bolasie was also denied a penalty for a foul by Darren Fletcher but a left-foot cracker from Wickham further reduced the deficit with the 10 minutes remaining.

Palace, however, were unable to turn late pressure into a a dramatic leveller.

The victory lifts West Brom up to 13th place, above Palace, who sit eight points clear of the relegation zone.

It was ultimately a satisfying night for former Palace boss Tony Pulis, who was treated to a fine first-half display from his current side.

Salomon Rondon and Berahino combined superbly in the build up to the opening goal, with Wayne Hennessey saving from the Venezuelan, only for Gardner to net the rebound from six yards.

Following a foul on Sessegnon by Jordon Mutch and Gardner’s resultant out-swinging free-kick, Dawson produced a towering header to double the hosts’ lead.

West Brom moved further ahead soon after the half-hour when Sessegnon, having been fed out wide by Rondon, produced a magnificent diagonal ball into the penalty area, where Berahino was on hand to finish expertly.

The Baggies almost went four up before the break, with Joel Ward deflecting a Gardner free-kick onto the outside of Hennessey’s right-hand post.

Palace replied three minutes into the second period, as Olsson and Ben Foster left Damien Delaney’s header over the top to one another, allowing Wickham to lift the ball over the goalkeeper Foster and finish neatly.

Between Palace’s two major penalty appeals, with referee Jon Moss waving both away, Berahino almost put the game to bed with a strike from 20 yards that hit the angle of the target.

Palace’s hopes remained, and they were increased further when Mutch’s floated free-kick was inadvertently headed down by McAuley to Wickham, who struck a powerful, angled drive to the far corner of the net.

The visitors, though, were unable to force an equaliser - they went closest through a Dann header that Gardner headed off the goal-line - and the Baggies were left to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Pulis and his men are now just three points shy of 40, the traditional marker for guaranteeing survival into the following season’s top flight.

By David Maher

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