Free report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship match between West Brom and Middlesbrough at The Hawthorns, as two early goals from Daryl Dike sealed victory for the Baggies on Saturday afternoon.

18:33 UK Saturday 25 February 2023

Daryl Dike scored an early brace at The Hawthorns to force West Bromwich Albion back into the Championship play-off mix, and dented Middlesbrough’s bid to win back Sheffield United and the automatic promotion places.

USA international Dike found the net in the eighth minute when Jed Wallace teeed him off, and two minutes later John Swift was the provider as Dike delivered a cushion for Albion.

Boro, who had been in riotous form before this, were comparatively unassuming in the final third and now find themselves seven points behind second-placed Blades after falling 2-0.

The initial goal was created by experts. Swift picked up the ball on the left and slid Wallace, who had held off his run to avoid the offside flag, over the wing. The center of him turned delicately under compatriot Zack Steffen.

Things got even better for the American almost immediately afterwards with another beautifully crafted move: this time it was Wallace who found Swift, and he in turn put it on Dike. On goal, he needed two tries to beat Steffen.

The high-flying visitors began to settle in after their initial setback and began to press around the hosts’ box, but Albion continued to keep them within arm’s reach.

In fact, they were the ones who seemed most likely to score a third goal. Wallace skipped a chance at the far post after Grady Diangana and Conor Townsend combined to good effect, and Dike came close to completing his hat-trick when alert Jonny Howson knocked the ball off his toes.

Boro, who owns the division’s leading scorer in Chuba Akpom, finally put young goalkeeper Josh Griffiths to the test when Marcus Forss sent a stinging shot into the top corner. Griffiths, to the full length of it, was able to tip it over the crossbar. Akpom then warmed up his gloves with a header on goal.

The game should have ended as a contest just over five minutes after the second half began. Substitute Marc Albrighton found Dike in the penalty area with his back to goal, and rolled Paddy McNair before getting past the last man.

With only Steffen to beat, the goalkeeper produced a great leg save to deny it.

It quickly became apparent that McNair, having fallen to the ground, required treatment and, after a lengthy detention, he was carried away on a stretcher to applause from both sets of fans.

Dara O’Shea, the West Brom captain, came close as he rose higher to meet a Swift corner from the right, but he nodded his head down and barely missed the far post.

Boro, by comparison, still saw the ball a lot, but a dogged defense from the Baggies largely kept them at bay, and Griffiths again, who was on hand to repel Izzy Jones at the far post until stoppage time.

The administrators

Carlos Corberan from West Brom:

“I highly value his (Dike’s) defensive commitment today, as well as his goals, because goals are key to winning football games. We know that forwards, midfielders and wingers have responsibilities to score goals, because many times they are going to finish “. the opportunities we create, and the team has a responsibility to create opportunities.

“For the striker it is important to increase his confidence by scoring goals, but for me I reward the football he was doing at the same level as I reward his goals.”

Michael Carrick from Middlesbrough:

“It’s frustrating and disappointing because we don’t like to lose games. In the end, it was one of those games. In fact, we started well for six or seven minutes, we looked good on the ball and calm. But then we gave away two soft goals.” in quick succession and that’s the difference. That puts you on the defensive because there’s a long way to get back in the game.

“Even then, I believed we could get back in the game, but they defended very well with those goals to hold on to. I can’t blame the guys for their effort and attitude and the way they did it. It was just one of those days that we have to learn and be better next time”.

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