West Bromwich close on top tier thanks to Koren double

West Bromwich 3 Leicester City 0
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The Independent Football

The prospect of Black Country derbies in the Premier League drew closer as West Bromwich dispatched Leicester, an eighth consecutive home victory taking Wolves' neighbours 12 points clear of third-placed Nottingham Forest in the fight for automatic promotion from the Championship.

Albion, who visit Watford on Monday afternoon, could be up by the evening if Forest falter in their two games in three days. However, their rivals from the East Midlands fare, Albion's vastly superior goal difference means five points from their remaining five fixtures will guarantee their fourth ascent to the elite division in nine seasons.

James Morrison, with his first goal of an injury-scarred season, and Robert Koren, who will soon lead Slovenia against England in the World Cup, landed the decisive blows late in the first half of Roberto di Matteo's 100th match as a manager. Koren danced through for a third five minutes from time.

Di Matteo praised a "great performance, considering the importance of the game". He added: "We're a step closer, definitely, and it's a great position to be in." The Italian's opposite number, Nigel Pearson, also reached a century of matches in charge of Leicester. Their fourth successive defeat, allied to Blackpool's surge, means the play-off place that once seemed secure is hanging by a thread. "We're now in what's essentially a five-game season," he said. "I've told the players we've worked too hard to let it pass us by now."

Leicester paid a high price for failing to contain Chris Brunt. The winger's free-kick saw Jonas Olsson's back-header hit the foot of the far post, and when Brunt's left-wing cross was headed away by Jack Hobbs, Morrison's half-volley tore into the right corner of Chris Weale's net.

On the stroke of half-time Leicester again failed to deal with Brunt's delivery from the flank. Once more Hobbs headed the ball away but this time it struck his team-mate Andy King and dropped obligingly for Koren to score with a scuffed shot from 14 yards.

Leicester's Steve Howard needed treatment to a head wound after Gabriel Tamas' arm caught him. Koren, taking Morrison's through-ball and rounding Weale before stroking home, added insult to injury.

West Bromwich Albion (4-1-4-1): Carson; Reid (Méité, h-t), Tamas, Olsson (Mattock, 78), Cech; Mulumbu; Koren, J Morrison, Dorrans, Brunt; Miller (Bednar, 58). Substitutes not used: Kiely (gk), Barnes, Slory, Cox.

Leicester City (4-4-2): Weale; Neilson, M Morrison, Hobbs, Berner; Oakley (Adams, 61), Wellens, King, Dyer (Vaughan, 54); Waghorn (Gallagher, h-t), Howard. Substitutes not used: Logan (gk), Brown, Kermorgant, Spearing.

Referee: D Deadman (Hertfordshire).