Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Vela rescues point for Baggies

Carlos Vela
Carlos Vela

On-loan forward Carlos Vela snatched a controversial equaliser three minutes from time to give West Brom a 1-1 draw against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.

Arsenal's Mexico international appeared to have been offside before he converted Steven Reid's cross but there was no flag and the Baggies escaped with a point which lifted them out of the Barclays Premier League's bottom three.

Midfielder Rory Delap's second goal of the season had put the hosts ahead in the 53rd minute in what had been an uninspiring game up to that point.

Jermaine Pennant, making his first appearance since January 4, was Stoke's main threat in the first half but the closest he came to breaking the deadlock was just before the interval when he curled a free-kick on to the top of the angle of post and crossbar.

Delap finally rose above the mediocrity - and Graham Dorrans - to head home Pennant's 53rd-minute corner from three yards at the near post.

The goal finally injected some life into the game, with Chris Brunt (twice) and Stoke's Jon Walters both worrying their opposing goalkeepers with shots from distance.

Asmir Begovic was the busier of the two goalkeepers, saving Dorrans' header with his legs after it deflected wickedly off Ryan Shawcross while watching helplessly as Marc-Antoine Fortune's looping header dropped onto the crossbar and over.

West Brom pressed for an equaliser and they were duly rewarded, albeit in fortuitous circumstances.

Reid swung in a right-wing cross and substitute Vela poked the ball past Begovic from close range despite appearing to have benefited from coming back from an offside position.

There was still enough time for Begovic to be required to make three crucial saves as West Brom sensed a late shock - but it was not to be and the spoils were shared.

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