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Albion down Hammers to mark Chinese takeover


West Bromwich (United Kingdom) (AFP) – West Bromwich Albion welcomed their new Chinese owners and eased the pressure on boss Tony Pulis with a 4-2 win against struggling West Ham on Saturday.

Yunyi Guokai Sports Development Limited, led by Chinese entrepreneur Guochuan Lai, completed their protracted takeover of the Premier League club on Thursday and their reign got off to a memorable start.

Nacer Chadli’s early penalty opening the scoring at the Hawthorns before goals from Salomon Rondon and James McClean put Albion in complete control before half-time.

Chadli added his second after the interval and although Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini reduced the deficit for West Ham it was too late to save the visitors from a fourth defeat in five league games.

Albion’s first win since the opening day of the season was well timed for Pulis, who recently put his job at risk by publicly criticising the club’s transfer policy.

Without a home win since March, Albion needed a fast start and they got it in the eighth thanks to a helping hand from West Ham defender Arthur Masuaku.

Baffled by some incisive play from Albion winger Matt Phillips, Masuaku conceded a free-kick with a handball, then doubled down on his blunder by needlessly handling again to concede a penalty when Phillips took the set-piece.

Belgian winger Chadli stroked home the spot-kick for his first goal since his transfer deadline day move from Tottenham.

West Ham blew a two-goal lead in last weekend’s 4-2 home defeat against Watford and Slaven Bilic’s team still looked scarred by that meltdown as they shot themselves in the foot time and again.

Antonio wasted a good chance to equalise when he shot straight at Albion goalkeeper Ben Foster.

Pulis’ side took advantage of West Ham’s mistake-filled display to increase their lead in the 37th minute, making it the first time they had scored more than once in a league game since March.

Chadli was allowed to pick out Rondon under little pressure and the Venezuela forward drove a clinical strike past Adrian for his second goal of the season.

With West Ham’s defence creaking under even the slightest pressure, it was no surprise when McClean poked in Albion’s third goal from a Chadli shot in the 44th minute.

Chadli piled on the misery for West Ham in the 56th minute when he tapped in from Rondon’s pass after the Venezuelan sprinted the length of the pitch.

Antonio has tormented opposing defences with his aerial ability this season and he headed his fifth goal in four matches in the 61st minute.

When Lanzini converted a penalty after Dimitri Payet was fouled by Brendan Galloway five minutes later, West Ham began to dream of a remarkable fightback but their revival eventually ran out of steam.

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