Salomon Rondon headed home a second-half goal as West Brom beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park in their opening game of the Premier League season.
- Crystal Palace 0-1 West Bromwich Albion
- Shocking first-half with no real chances
- Rondon heads home McClean's free-kick
- Three in three for Rondon
The first half of the fixture was a half to forget for any fan affiliated with either club with both squads seemingly rusty in the start of the new campaign.
The second half produced more goal mouth action with Palace looking more likely to find the winner but it was the West Brom striker Salomon Rondon who found the all-important goal that secured all three points at Selhurst Park.
In what was expected to be a game of contrasting styles of play, the first half for Palace and the Baggies fans would have been painful to watch – Tony Pulis set his side out with a rigid 4-4-2 system and the match produced little to no goalmouth action in the opening 45 minutes.
However, Lee Chung-yong was a shining light for Palace as he looked tidy on the ball behind striker Connor Wickham and comfortable in the playmaker position.
The bright spells of play meant nothing in the second half, though, as they failed to capatalise on crucial goalscoring opportunities – Pardew recently bemoaned his side's lack of clinical forwards and it showed when Wilfried Zaha failed to beat Ben Foster from point-blank range.
With the former Newcastle boss clearly frustrated, a host of substitutions were thrown on, with wantaway winger Yannick Bolasie coming on for Lee Chung-Yong and Yohan Cabaye on for Jason Puncheon, who almost found the back of the net just before leaving the field of play.
But it was Pulis who came through with the more inspiring of changes, Irish winger James McClean making an immediate impact as he replaced the tireless Craig Gardner.
And the deadlock was finally broken in the 74th minute when West Brom sent a free-kick far over on the right touchline and James McClean fired the ball towards Salomon Rondon, who glanced home with his head.
The Venezuela international's goal was his third in his last three games for the Baggies and secured all three points as they kicked off the new campaign with a win.