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Romelu Lukaku is proving to be quite a hit in the Midlands. Chelsea's unwanted youngster once again thrust West Brom to victory, keeping their European hopes alive in the process.
Steven Fletcher curled a low shot against the post with 23 minutes gone. Although the ball bounced back into the path of Sunderland's top scorer, he blasted well over the bar from the edge of the box.
Minutes after this incident, Craig Gardner conceded a crucial penalty after handling in the area. Lukaku stepped up and coolly side-footed his shot down the middle. Simon Mignolet dived to his left and had no chance of stopping this once the decision was made.
The Black Cats had a huge chance shortly after half-time.
Sebastian Larsson's corner wickedly whipped beyond the onrushing Ben Foster, who came off the line and missed the ball completely. Stephane Sessegnon loitered at the back post and steered his shot toward the open net.
Unfortunately for Martin O'Neill's men, Youssuf Mulumbu was in position to clear.
Even though West Brom's second goal was a tad fortuitous, Lukaku deserved all of the luck he was given. Foster started an incisive counterattack by bowling the ball toward Lukaku in his own half.
The Belgian—who found himself one-on-one with John O'Shea—was forced wide after a heavy first touch.
He knocked the ball beyond O'Shea on the halfway line and sprinted toward the opposition's area with pace. Despite retrieving possession, Titus Bramble played a soft back pass to his goalkeeper, who could only launch his clearance into Lukaku's foot. The ball flew past Mignolet and into Sunderland's net.
Lukaku should be praised for showing great determination.
Sessegnon managed to reply with a well-placed finish beyond Foster, but Steve Clarke's men held on for a second successive Premier League win.