It only took Shane Long eleven minutes yesterday to make it seem as if the derby between West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa was settled. His two quick--and impressive--goals left Villa reeling and seemingly without an answer. But, when Paul Lambert made a rare triple substitution in the second half, the team had a new breath of life and came roaring back, scoring their own pair of goals in just nine minutes. We've got multiple gifs of all four goals below so that you can relive what ended up being one of the most exciting derbies in recent memory.
Shane Long (3')
Now that the match is over and Villa took a point, I can say this without feeling too guilty: this was one of the best goals I've seen in ages. Standing on the edge of the box, Long took an over-the-shoulder-pass from beyond the halfway line, brought it down, stepped gently to the side, and fired it in. There's not much that anyone on Aston Villa could have done to stop this:
The pinpoint accuracy of that pass should be lauded, too. It traveled essentially half the field and landed perfectly on Long's foot.
And whoever was doing the directing of the television production gave us some really cool replay angles. Like this one:
Shane Long (11')
"Fine," I thought. "Villa have given up early goals and survived this season. No big deal." So I went about making my in-match gif of the goal above and when I came back, the score was suddenly 2-0. Long had struck again, this time thanks to a dreadful pass from Leandro Bacuna. When the ball failed to go far enough to reach its target, Long pounced and doubled West Brom's lead.
The bad pass looks even more damning in this gif, where it looks as if Bacuna were intentionally play a through-ball to Long.
Admittedly, Long got lucky with the ball going off the bar and in, but nevertheless, Villa looked totally clueless already.
Karim El Ahmadi (67')
But in the 57th minute, Paul Lambert brought on Gabby Agbonlahor, Andi Weimann, and Fabian Delph. Almost instantly the team looked fresh and revived, and began catching a tiring West Brom off guard. It only took ten minutes for the change to make an impact on the match, when Karim El Ahmadi managed to convert a deflected/blocked/misplaced Andi Weimann header into Villa's first goal.
But there's something interesting about the build-up to this goal. Often during this season, it's been noted that Villa could desperately use some good wing play. This goal showed why. Take a look at how this develops. As the ball is brought up the wing, the defenders move out to prevent a run from the outside coming in. You'll notice KEA moving into insanely open space in the middle of the box. Realistically, it might have made more sense for the cross to go directly to him, but as it was, sending it to the scrum around Andi meant that none of the West Brom defenders marked KEA and he was open to finish the play. Here's the full thing:
And because we all love watching Aston Villa do well, here's another angle:
Ashley Westwood (76')
Alright, this goal isn't quite as pretty as Shane Long's first strike, but it may have been just as tricky. Westwood, too, had to control a difficult ball, but he then had to absolutely thread the needle to get the ball into the back of the net:
By my count, there are two defenders and a keeper pretty much between Westwood and the goal, and he managed to go through them all. If you're not sufficiently impressed, take a look at these two angles:
And to make this even more fun, it was Westwood's first Premier League goal, so watching him celebrate was especially enjoyable:
But even better was the embrace he would share with Fabian Delph. I'm calling it now: this is the best hug I've ever seen from this club:
Yeah, the win would've been nice. But this match was a ton of fun and gave us some great moments. Which goal on the day was your favorite? Let us know in the comments!