West Brom 0 Crystal Palace 2
WEST BROM and Palace served up typically British ding-dong battle in Hong Kong.
Frank De Boer’s Palace condemned the Baggies to the Asian Trophy’s wooden spoon thanks to first half strikes from Luka Milivojevic and Bakary Sako.
And an ankle injury to skipper Jonny Evans certainly will not improve Tony Pulis’ mood.
Palace hit the front when Milivojevic curled a right footer over Ben Foster’s flimsy three-man wall from 25 yards after Craig Dawson needlessly bundled over Wilfried Zaha.
And Foster’s night didn’t get any better when Sako hit in a speculative long-range effort which clipped off Ahmed Hegazi’s heel, then flew off Dawson’s leg to leave the keeper hopelessly wrong-footed.
Having played the full 90 minutes at centre-half against Leicester on Wednesday, Pulis wanted his money’s worth from Evans as he deployed him as a sitting midfielder.
However the Albion skipper didn’t even last to the first water-break as he twisted his ankle, trying to close down Sako after 21 minutes.
The controversial Hong Kong pitch appeared to crumble under his foot, and the Northern Ireland international went over on his ankle in what appeared to be a painful injury.
It was the last thing Pulis needed as his key defender gingerly limped off to be replaced by Claudio Yacob shortly before Albion’s Public Enemy No1 Milivojevic opened the scoring.
The Serb wound up virtually every West Brom player and his running battle with Albion’s new Egyptian defender Ahmed Hegazi underlined this third-place play-off was no friendly.
They had to be separated as they left the field at half-time as tensions spilled over.
The Serb also had a bust-up after the break with Claudio Yacob, who was booked for chopping him down and the Serb was lucky to avoid punishment as he kicked out in retaliation to spark another heated exchange between both sets of players.
Quite what the locals thought of this typically rugged, ill-tempered Premier encounter was anyone’s guess as Allan Nyom charged around like a wrecking-ball and petty feuds erupted all over the pitch.
James McClean came on in the second half and immediately chopped down Zaha, who squared up to him as the match threatened to run away from local ref Chiu Kok Ng.
Albion dominated after the break but Hegazi fired over from three yards, Speroni defied Matt Phillips with a stunning fingertip save and McClean’s ferocious drive narrowly sailed over.