Mulumbu pounces as Baggies manage to stay clean
West Bromwich Albion 1 Everton 0
Sunday 15 May 2011
When West Bromwich Albion last beat Everton by the only goal on FA Cup final day, Jeff Astle's piledriver delivered the trophy itself. Forty-three years on, with nothing but points, pride and prize-money at stake, Youssouf Mulumbu struck from closer range to enhance Albion's prospects of finishing as the West Midlands' top team.
Their penultimate match also saw Roy Hodgson's side record a clean sheet for the first time in 35 Premier League games – a record for the competition – since they beat Sunderland by the same score in August. Albion have taken 19 points from a possible 33 since Hodgson replaced Roberto di Matteo as head coach.
Everton's cause was not helped when Diniyar Bilyaletdinov got a red card for a challenge on James Morrison, Hodgson rightly branding it "harsh". The Russian, who had replaced Phil Neville five minutes earlier, made an obscene gesture as he went down the tunnel.
Hodgson described the long-awaited shutout as "satisfying", adding: "The group of players I inherited have done a fantastic job. All credit goes to them. Now we'll be working hard to make sure we put together a squad to keep us in the League again next year." David Moyes, the Everton manager, declined to address the media, but his captain, Neville, tweeted: "Story of our season good and in control but no cutting edge one game to go [against Chelsea] got to finish on a high!"
The demob-happy atmosphere was enhanced when Everton's goal fell. Peter Odemwingie, bidding to become the first Albion player to score in six consecutive top-flight fixtures since Ronnie Allen in 1954, turned provider after outpacing Sylvain Distin following Chris Brunt's pass. From his cutback, Mulumbu sidefooted his seventh goal of the season. The Congolese midfielder indulged his marauding instincts helped by the return of Paul Scharner, who had blue and white hair.
Behind them Scott Carson, who has presumably risen in the England rankings after Ben Foster announced his unavailability and Rob Green mulls over a break, made two agile first-half saves from Victor Anichebe. At the other end, Tim Howard parried Odemwingie's header, while Tony Hibbert cleared off the line to deny Jerome Thomas.
Bilyaletdinov had no sooner blazed over than he was sent off. Odemwingie, sent clear, was prevented from adding to his haul by Howard's diving save.
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Man of the match: Mulumbu
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