Long stars but Baggies held

West Brom 2 Aston Villa 2

Long stars but Baggies held

Long looked to have almost single-handedly destroyed Villa with a two-goal first-half blast — taking his tally to four in four games.

But Villa pulled off a second-half comeback to rescue a point with goals from Karim El Ahmadi and Ashley Westwood.

“The feeling is disappointment. We felt it was a game we could get three point from,” said Baggies boss Steve Clarke. “But there are some positives. Shane Long has been working hard for that type of performance — his first goal was out of this world.”

Aston Villa skipper Ron Vlaar said: “The first half wasn’t good at all but we turned it around and I’m very proud of that. It was a great goal from Westwood — his shot was magnificent. I’m happy for him.”

Long has just seven months plus a year-long option left on his current deal. Stoke City and Hull City are waiting to pounce for Long in the January transfer window and Long’s bargaining position is certainly stronger after his glut of goals.

Long took just three minutes to break the deadlock — showing great control to latch on to a through ball from Chris Brunt before beating goalkeeper Brad Guzan from the edge of the area with a low drive.

Long doubled Albion’s advantage after 11 minutes with a goal that will give the Villa defender Leandro Bacuna nightmares. Bacuna passed the ball back across the face of his own area but he had failed to spot the lurking Long. Long latched on to the pass and raced towards the far left hand corner of the Villa area.

Faced by an acute angle and the on-rushing Guzan, Long chipped his shot over Guzan, the ball going in off the underside of the bar.

Paul Lambert’s men were clinging on before half-time. After Amalfitano made an unsuccessful attempt on goal after the break, Lambert acted with his treble substitution — Tonev, Kozak and Yacouba Sylla removed — and it paid off handsomely.

Weimann fired a warning with a deflected shot that came off Myhill and trickled just the wrong side of the right post.Then, after Sessegnon fired over from a good position, Albion failed to react as Weimann got his head to Bacuna’s cross, teeing up El Ahmadi, who hooked in.

Westwood then cracked in to level the scores and Villa now seemed the more likely to win. But Weimann miscued an ambitious shot and the game finished all square.

W BROM: Myhill, Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Popov (Anichebe 82), Mulumbu, Yacob, Amalfitano, Sessegnon (Morrisson 73), Brunt, Long.

VILLA: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Clark, Westwood, El Ahmadi, Sylla (Delph 57), Tonev (Weimann 57), Benteke, Kozak (Agbonlahor).

Referee: M Oliver (Northumberland).

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