West Brom’s substitutes came up trumps as second-half goals from Tom Rogic and Daryl Dike secured a 2-1 victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland claimed a first-half lead when Amad Diallo scored from the penalty spot, but Albion’s manager Carlos Corberán made a host of second-half changes, throwing on both Rogic and Dike in an attempt to change things.
Rogic levelled when he fired home from the edge of the area and Dike headed home a West Brom winner from Jed Wallace’s 83rd-minute cross.
Corberán was understandably delighted with the impact of his substitutes. “We need to see when things need to change and the response of the substitutes was fantastic. That is what you need to win a game. We have a good squad and, when we bring players on from the bench, they have to have that kind of impact.”
Dike was playing in just his third match of the season after suffering a thigh injury and Corberán is delighted to see the American back in full training and fighting for a place in the starting XI.
He said: “He is training normally with the group and, now he is having the game time, that is going to help him.
“Of course, every striker wants to score and he will have confidence now he has got that goal. But, for me, the fact he is training fully with the rest of the group is the most important thing for him.”
Sunderland were ahead inside the opening 20 minutes, with Amad claiming his fifth goal in the last seven matches from the spot. The Manchester United loanee won the spot-kick himself via a slick one-two with Luke O’Nien that resulted in West Brom full-back Conor Townsend bundling him over from behind.
With Sunderland’s regular penalty taker, Ross Stewart, still feeling his way back from a long-term injury, Amad stepped up to confidently stroke his effort home.
The Black Cats almost scored a second two minutes after breaking the deadlock, but, while Ellis Simms’ flick released Alex Pritchard into the penalty area, Albion goalkeeper Alex Palmer was off his line quickly to save the midfielder’s shot.
West Brom had not created a chance at that stage, but the visitors thought they should have been playing against 10 men shortly after the half-hour mark.
Danny Batth conceded possession to John Swift deep inside his own half and reacted by pulling back the Baggies forward. Swift and his teammates demanded a straight red card, but referee James Linington opted to show a yellow.
The visitors came close to claiming an equaliser eight minutes into the second half when Matty Phillips met Swift’s low cross but Sunderland goalkeeper Anthony Patterson denied him with a point-blank save.
Patterson tipped Rogic’s long-range strike over the crossbar as West Brom continued to press, but the Sunderland goalkeeper was unable to prevent the equaliser with 20 minutes left. Wallace’s cross was cleared into Rogic’s path and the Australian prodded home a first-time effort from the edge of the 18-yard box.
West Brom scored their second with seven minutes left thanks to another of their substitutes. Wallace swung over a cross from close to the right touchline and the onrushing Dike powerfully headed home.
Disappointed Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray said afterwards: “We sat too deep and invited pressure. This team at this stadium need to play on the front foot and yet it’s a human thing really to protect what you’ve got sometimes. It’s a frustrating night for us.”