West Bromwich Albion went top of the Championship table as they battered Sheffield United at The Hawthorns.
In a meeting of two of last season’s relegated Premier League teams, Albion’s physical dominance showed they have so far adjusted better to life back at this level under new boss Valerien Ismael.
Three of Albion’s four goals came from aerial set pieces, triggered just as they were against Luton on Saturday by a headed opening own goal from a Darnell Furlong long throw.
After Jack Robinson went past Michael Verrips, an error from the Dutch keeper – on his first league start – then led to an early second-half goal for Dara O’Shea before summer signing Alex Mowatt bagged a third six minutes later.
And when another Furlong throw led to Callum Robinson’s third goal in four games on 59 minutes, that was enough to take the Baggies above Fulham on goal difference.
Furthermore, Sheffield United on the other hand are still without a league goal this season and have only picked up a point from Saturday’s goalless draw at Swansea.
Verrips was making his debut league start for the Blades after being brought in to exchange England keeper Aaron Ramsdale, who is on the verge of a move to Arsenal.
And it turned into a baptism of fire – and evening to forget – from the moment Robinson met Furlong’s throw off balance and produced an almost carbon copy of Luton skipper Kal Naismith’s own goal at the weekend.
On Saturday, Albion went 3-0 up, then almost let it slip, but there was to be no repeat this time as they scored three times in 12 second-half minutes.
From Mowatt’s right-wing corner, Verrips got a palm to it, then flapped under heavy pressure from Matt Clarke – and defender O’Shea had the composure to force home his second goal in three games.
Mowatt then started and ended the move for the third strike. He won the ball in the air, found Robinson and raced into the box for the return pass from Karlan Grant before coolly sidefooting past Verrips.
Robinson then completed the scoring just before the hour when Verrips was blocked in his attempt to reach another Furlong throw and Kyle Bartley’s flick-on left the Albion striker in space to finish from close range.
West Brom head coach Valerien Ismael told BBC Radio WM:
“We’ve got so many positives to take. We were strong, focused, determined and kept a clean sheet.
“We kept the intensity for the full 90 minutes. And we gave the fans that peace to create the atmosphere we need.
“We want them to help make this a happy place for away teams to come.”
Sheffield United manager Slavisa Jokanovic told BBC Radio Sheffield:
“They won the physical battle. If we can’t win the second ball, then that is going to be an issue for us.
“We knew how they would play but we did not react.
“We paid a costly price and I was disappointed with the way we played with the ball.”