Well-travelled Odemwingie makes immediate impact

West Bromwich Albion 1 Sunderland 0
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The Independent Football

Now his mood has presumably lightened a shade, Steve Bruce might just manage a wry smile at the immediate impact Peter Odemwingie has had on West Bromwich Albion.

Charged as he is with fortifying a side who go into their shell every time their team bus heads down the A1, Sunderland's manager would see the irony in the criss-crossing of the globe this World Cup striker undertook before settling this game nine minutes from time. The Uzbekistan-born 29-year-old, who chose to play for the country of his father's birth, Nigeria, had trained with his new team-mates only once, his arrival here on Thursday night being followed 24 hours later by his international clearance.

In midweek, he had sat, bags packed, at his former club, Lokomotiv Moscow, waiting for a work permit to be granted. And all that after he had flown via China to South Korea, two weeks ago, for a goal-scoring appearance in a friendly international and then caught a plane to England for his Hawthorns medical. It hardly appeared the ideal preparation for participation in Albion's first home league game since promotion, although probably a breeze compared with the players whose six-goal capitulation at Chelsea he had watched on TV in a London hotel.

"All the hassle was worth it," Odemwingie said. "It was a difficult week for me but, if you are an international, you always have to travel.

"There was something still to come from Moscow and it took a long time because someone didn't have access to a computer. I got the news at around 10pm [that he was cleared to play] and then I could sleep well. Now I think we can do something good here."

The £2m signing followed his assured finish by predicting he might be good for another dozen or so goals this season. He will doubtless have some reasonable service. The pass with which Chris Brunt played him through for a squandered one-on-one chance early on was exquisite; James Morrison's assist for the goal not far from behind. Brunt's first-half overhead kick and late swerving 30-yarder against the bar were moments of high quality around goal.

Roberto Di Matteo preceded his post-match press briefing by planting a kiss on the forehead of the club's new secretary Richard Garlick, who bore most of the extra administrative burden in pursuit of the necessary paperwork. The manager has also just signed the Cameroon international midfielder Somen Tchoyi from Salzburg.

For Bruce, the problems are familiar ones. On the afternoon he handed Cristian Riveros a first start in England and recalled another Paraguayan, defender Paulo Da Silva, there was an immediate resurfacing of the weaknesses that saw his side go from opening day to 24 April last season without an away league victory.

The parallels are even more pronounced, Sunderland having also lost on their travels last term to all three of the 2009-10 Premier League new arrivals. They were thoroughly insipid in the first half and improved only with the intervention of their exasperated manager.

"I can't come to terms with not having an energy and attitude to go and take part in the game," he said. "I can make excuses about not having [Lee] Cattermole and [Michael] Turner but we had enough in the team for me not to have to go on like a raging idiot at half-time, waking a few of them up."



Match facts

West Bromwich Albion 4-1-4-1: Carson; Jara, Tamas, Olsson, Cech; Mulumbu (Shorey, 85); Brunt, Morrison, Dorrans (Reid, 82); Thomas (Barnes, h-t); Odemwingie. Substitutes not used: Myhill (gk), Ibanez, Bednar, Cox.

Booked: Brunt, Olsson, Reid.

Sunderland 4-4-2: Mignolet; Onuoha, Bramble, Da Silva, Richardson; Elmohamady (Zenden, 66), Riveros (Waghorn, 84), Henderson, Malbranque (Welbeck, 66); Bent, Campbell. Substitutes not used: Carson (gk), Bardsley, Angeleri, Colback.

Booked: Da Silva, Bramble.

Man of the match: Brunt.

Possession: West Brom 50%, Sunderland 50%

Shots on target: West Brom 4, Sunderland 4

Referee: K Friend (Leicestershire).

Attendance: 23,624.

Match rating: 6.

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