West Brom up to 3rd in EPL with win at Sunderland
(AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
SUNDERLAND, England (AP) West Bromwich Albion kept up its stunning start to the Premier League season on Saturday by climbing into third with a 4-2 victory at Sunderland.
West Brom's fourth successive win took them two points ahead of Chelsea, although manager Steve Clarke's former club can reclaim its spot in the top three by beating Manchester City on Sunday.
Zoltan Gera put West Brom ahead on the half-hour and Shane Long fired into an empty net before half time after goalkeeper Simon Mignolet fumbled Chris Brunt's pass.
Sunderland launched a fightback when Craig Gardner's free kick was deflected home in the 73rd minute.
Romelu Lukaku restored West Brom's two-goal cushion from the penalty spot before Stephane Sessegnon pulled another back for Sunderland. But Marc-Antoine Fortune had the final say, with West Brom's fourth in injury time.
The Baggies were brimming with confidence from the start and took the lead in spectacular style when Gera turned neatly and blasted a left-foot shot past Mignolet and inside the post.
Sunderland might have been level within two minutes when the ball fell to John O'Shea inside the penalty area but he curled a right-foot effort just high and wide of the top corner.
Martin O'Neill's side went close again two minutes before halftime when Sessegnon's enterprising run ended with a deflected shot which West Brom goalkeeper Boaz Myhill stopped with little difficulty.
However, their hopes were dealt a major blow within seconds with Mignolet's calamity in goal.
The Belgium goalkeeper went down to collect Brunt's harmless through-ball as Long close him down, but inexplicably fumbled it into the path of the striker, who was left to tap into an empty net.
The game might have been effectively over within four minutes of the restart when Long ran in on goal, only for Mignolet to partially redeem himself with a vital block.
And Sunderland gave itself hope when Gardner's free kick clipped Fortune in the defensive wall and flew past the helpless Myhill.
But Adam Johnson's trip on Liam Ridgewell led to the penalty kick which Lukaku converted in the 81st.
Sessegnon pulled a second goal back from close range for Sunderland after Myhill had parried Fletcher's header in the 87th. But after Lukaku had hit the post, Fortune ended Sunderland's hopes with a neat finish in the fifth minute of injury time.
Updated November 24, 2012