West Brom 2-2 Aston Villa: Jay Rodriguez nets controversial late equaliser in West Midlands derby
Anwar El Ghazi had scored one and created another to put Villa in control
By Dan Long
Last Updated: 14/12/18 2:48pm
Jay Rodriguez's controversial late equaliser gave West Brom a share of the spoils in an enthralling 2-2 draw with West Midlands rivals Aston Villa at The Hawthorns.
Villa had taken the lead after 12 minutes through Anwar El Ghazi's deflected opener, which was later credited as an Ahmed Hegazi own goal, before Dwight Gayle's close-range finish had levelled things up after 28 minutes.
El Ghazi restored the lead with a stunning swerving strike, before Rodriguez challenged Villa stopper Orjan Nyland for a cross, with the loose ball being turned over the line by the striker's arm.
West Brom: Johnstone (5), Dawson (6), Adarabioyo (6), Hegazi (6), Phillips (7), Livermore (6), Barry (6), Gibbs (6), Barnes (7), Gayle (7), Rodriguez (7)
Subs: Brunt (n/a), Burke (n/a)
Aston Villa: Nyland (5), Hutton (6), Tuanzebe (6), Chester (6), Taylor (5), McGinn (6), Hourihane (6), Grealish (6), Bolasie (5), El Ghazi (8), Abraham (5)
Subs: Elmohamady (5), Kodjia (n/a), Whelan (n/a)
Man of the match: Anwar El Ghazi
Tammy Abraham also spurned a host of chances for Villa, who miss the chance to enter the Championship play-off places, while Albion stay in third, four points behind leaders Norwich.
There was a cagey feel to the opening exchanges of the game but Dean Smith's men took the lead out of the blue, just moments after Matt Phillips had struck a powerful drive past Nyland's far post.
Villa winger El Ghazi's tame effort from 20 yards out took two deflections before wrong-footing Sam Johnstone and nestling in the back of the face of Hegazi.
West Brom's equaliser came in a similar manner; Abraham's close-range shot was saved, and within seconds, Harvey Barnes latched onto a long ball out of defence and found Gayle with a sumptuous pass that the striker tucked home first time.
John McGinn hit the post with a thunderous strike in the closing minutes of the first half, but, after the break, the momentum of both sides took some time to return.
Darren Moore made two changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Brentford on Monday, with Gareth Barry - who spent 11 years with Aston Villa - and Dwight Gayle being restored to the starting 11.
Following the resounding 3-0 win over Middlesbrough last Saturday evening, there was just one Villa change as Alan Hutton replaced Ahmed Elmohamady at right-back.
And though his first strike was initially shrouded in mystery, there was no doubt the second Villa strike belonged to El Ghazi as he held off the challenge of Kieran Gibbs to strike a swerving effort inside the near post.
With five minutes of stoppage time shown, the Baggies rallied and got their reward when Rodriguez bravely challenged Nyland and bundled the loose ball home from close range via, what replays suggest, was his arm.
Man of the match - Anwar El Ghazi
The Dutch winger - who is on loan from Ligue 1 side Lille - looked like a man on a mission on Friday evening and was duly rewarded for his persistence with a sublime strike that looked to have given Villa all three points at the Hawthorns.
Dean Smith: "We've gone toe-to-toe with a team that got relegated from the Premier League last year at their home patch. In the second half we were so much better and created some really big chances.
"We probably should've put the game to bed with the chances we've had, but we still should be walking away with three points."
Darren Moore: "It was a pulsating Midlands derby, a typical game that we expected. Two teams in form who went at it right from the word go - I thought it was a great game.
"I think we deserved something out of the game because of the way we played. It's all happened so quick and we ended up earning a point from it...I'm delighted."
West Brom are in action once more next Friday night when they travel to Sheffield United in a game live on Sky Sports Football from 7pm. Aston Villa, meanwhile, host Stoke at Villa Park the following day, with kick-off at 3pm.