x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Mulumbu keeps West Brom safe

It was their first win over Villa in 26 years and leaves them eight points clear of the bottom three with just three games remaining.

Youssouf Mulumbu, centre, scores West Brom's winning goal at the Hawthorns. Michael Steele / Getty Images
Youssouf Mulumbu, centre, scores West Brom's winning goal at the Hawthorns. Michael Steele / Getty Images

WEST BROMWICH // Roy Hodgson has allowed himself to think about next season as West Bromwich Albion virtually guaranteed top-flight football for another campaign with victory over local rivals Aston Villa.

Strikes from Peter Odemwingie and Youssouf Mulumbu enabled West Brom to overcome trailing to an own goal from Abdoulaye Meite and the 62nd-minute sending off of the midfielder Paul Scharner.

It was their first win over Villa in 26 years and leaves them eight points clear of the bottom three with just three games remaining.

Hodgson said he was now looking to try and establish West Brom as a Premier League club after several seasons yo-yoing between the top flight and the Championship.

"From a selfish viewpoint, I'm going to have a wonderful weekend. It's a fantastic feeling with three games to go to have achieved our major goal of keeping West Brom in the Premier League," he said.

"It means we get successive seasons at least and I'm rather hoping we will be able to build on the foundations we've laid this year.

"Hopefully we can find a team that can stay there year after year and not consistently have to bounce back from relegation." Hodgson was again full of praise for his players, who have gained 26 points after being in losing positions this season - more than any other Premier League team.

Said Hodgson: "Once again we showed a lot of character and resilience and determination against a good team after going a goal down and then playing with 10 men. We've got to say they deserved it today and we broke a 26-year hoodoo."

Odemwingie scored his 14th goal of the campaign and netted for the fourth successive game.

Said Hodgson: "His goals have been vital. He has done extremely well, scored some spectacular goals and ones like today.

"It is his first year in the Premier League and next year he will get even better."

Gary McAllister, Villa's caretaker manager, insisted that his players did not take their foot off the pedal after their recent four-game unbeaten run effectively ended their relegation fears.

"It was not necessarily an end-of-season performance. I just feel it was an opportunity to grasp three points away from home against a local rival. The disappointing thing today is we know what three points would have meant.

"Villa are still the biggest club in the midlands and we want to finish top of that pile."