Slovenia midfielder Robert Koren sparkled as West Brom gave their survival chances a huge shot in the arm with a 3-0 win over fellow strugglers Middlesbrough at The Hawthorns on Saturday.
The win lifted the Baggies off the bottom of the Premier League table and although they could find themselves back there if Tottenham beat Portsmouth at home on Sunday a third consecutive home win will have greatly bolstered morale in their camp.
Chris Brunt got West Brom off to the perfect start with an early strike and Koren saw one shot deflected in off Marc-Antoine Fortune before claiming his side’s third with a strike that could not be claimed by anyone else.
Boro might have come away with something from the match but for the wayward finishing of Brazilian forward Afonso Alves, who passed up several good scoring chances.
Brunt’s opener came after only four minutes, collecting a mistimed clearance from Carl Hoefkens’s cross to fire the ball past Ross Turnbull.
Boro would have equalised minutes later but for the woodwork.
Scott Carson palmed away a deep centre from Stewart Downing and the ball broke to Alves who headed against the crossbar.
Alves then missed another good chance midway through the opening period, volleying wide after David Wheater had flicked on a free-kick.
On-loan forward Jay Simpson had an equally good chance for Albion after a Ryan Donk pass sent him clear of the back four. But the Arsenal forward’s touch was poor and Turnbull was able to close him down sufficiently to block the shot.
Albion finally doubled their lead nine minutes after the break with a goal that was finally attributed to Fortune, a loan signing from French club Nancy.
Koren played the ball into Fortune, collected a return pass and fired in a shot that beat Turnbull with the help of a deflection off the Frenchman.
Gareth Southgate promptly took off Gary O’Neil and his replacement Mido quickly set up Alves, who headed wide from six yards out.
Boro’s chances of a fightback disappeared when Didier Digard was given a straight red card for a challenge on Spanish midfielder Borja Valero.
Koren took full advantage and capped a superb all-round display by running to a pass from Brunt before placing a shot beyond Turnbull.
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