Roy Hodgson has declared West Bromwich Albion safe from relegation after his side came from behind to edge Aston Villa 2-1 on Saturday.
An own goal from Abdoulaye Meite put Villa ahead early in the Midlands derby, but Peter Odemwingie proved the hero once more with an equaliser – his 14th goal of the campaign – on the hour.
Things quickly turned sour for West Brom as Paul Scharner was sent packing with a second caution, but Youssouf Mulumbu found the net with six minutes remaining to hand the Baggies their first win over Villa since 1985.
West Brom leapfrog their Midlands rivals into 11th place on the table with 43 points, having taken 16 in nine matches since Hodgson was installed as manager.
Asked if their latest success meant safety for another season, Hodgson told Sky Sports: “Oh yes, I don’t think there is any doubt about that.”
“I don’t know what the other results were today but I really can’t see us going down on 43 points with a good goal difference.”
“I would say, even if it’s not mathematical, as far as I’m concerned it’s as good as done.”
“I’m very, very pleased. We started the game without three of our important regular players (Chris Brunt, Steven Reid and Jerome Thomas).”
“We then lost Gonzalo Jara to injury and we tried to keep in the game, which I thought we did reasonably well and then no sooner had we battled our way to an equaliser, we were down to 10 men.”
“We had to show a lot of fighting spirit, a lot of determination and also quite a lot of tactical discipline to keep them out and amazingly score a second goal, which was the winner.”
Villa caretaker manager Gary McAllister said his players were taking the result hard, having fought themselves into a winnable position early and again after Scharner’s dismissal.
“I’ve got to say there are a lot of disappointed players in that dressing room and they know,” said McAllister, who is in charge for the rest of the season while Gerard Houllier recovers from a heart scare.
“There are a lot of experienced players, a lot of international footballers. There are a few international captains, so they’re all disappointed.”
“They have been done by a sucker punch looking for three points and now we’re leaving here with nothing. It’s hard to take against a local rival.”