Salomon Rondon became only the second player in Premier League history to net a hat-trick of headers as his 13-minute haul inspired a comprehensive 3-1 victory for West Brom over Swansea City.
The striker had endured a barren run heading into Wednesday’s encounter at The Hawthorns, with just one goal in his previous nine appearances, but he returned to form in style with a stunning second-half hat-trick.
Swansea had applied themselves well in a tightly contested first half, although only a fine save from Lukasz Fabianski from Rondon’s strike kept them from going behind before the interval.
But Rondon made no mistake early in the second half, heading in three superb goals to put Tony Pulis’ side into a commanding lead, becoming the first Premier League player to net a trio of headers in one match since Duncan Ferguson did so for Everton against Bolton Wanderers in 1997.
Wayne Routledge did pull one back for Bob Bradley’s side late on, but it proved nothing more than a consolation as they slumped to another heavy defeat, while West Brom moved back into the top seven.
After going five games without making a change, Pulis was forced into two alterations, with Jonny Evans and Craig Dawson out through injury and suspension respectively.
Those changes seemed to impact West Brom as the hosts started sluggishly, Gylfi Sigurdsson’s well-saved free-kick the highlight of a tepid opening.
Nacer Chadli looked to inject some spark into proceedings with his exquisite footwork 15 minutes in, but the following cross was cut out before it could reach Rondon.
The duo successfully linked up 10 minutes before the interval – Chadli’s throughball splitting Swansea wide open – but Fabianski was on hand to deny Rondon with an instinctive save.
West Brom continued to improve as the half wore on and saw a goal correctly ruled out for offside before Jordi Amat’s last-ditch challenge prevented Rondon getting a shot away from close range.
Swansea’s resolve was broken five minutes after the restart, though, with Rondon rising highest to plant a firm header into the right-hand corner after connecting with Matty Phillips’ free-kick.
Rondon wasted no time in doubling his tally, and he had his second in the 61st minute when he nodded in Chris Brunt’s cross.
And the Venezuelan sealed his hat-trick in similar fashion two minutes later, again using his head to devastating effect to power home West Brom’s third off the underside of the crossbar.
Chadli had the chance to extend West Brom’s lead further shortly after, but fortunately for Swansea, who have now conceded three or more goals in six of Bradley’s nine games in charge, Alfie Mawson was well-placed to block the Belgian’s effort.
Swansea managed to steady the ship and capitalised on unusually sloppy West Brom defending to snatch a goal of their own with 12 minutes remaining, Routledge volleying into an empty net.
But it was Rondon’s day and he received a standing ovation from the Baggies faithful when he was substituted soon after, his efforts having returned West Brom to winning ways ahead of this weekend’s clash with sixth-placed Manchester United.
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