Paul Scharner should be considered a shining light amongst modern footballers. Ever since joining West Brom, Scharner has proven a hit with the fans. This is not just through his ability on the pitch, but his interaction with the fans through Facebook. But now Scharner is no longer a hit with the fans, he is no longer a fan favourite; he will now be revered by every Albion fan for his winning goal against Aston Villa this past Saturday. If you don’t quite understand what I mean, here’s some of the post from his wall;
"Legend" Multiple times
"Hero" Multiple Times
"Paul I have waited 32 years for today, thank you!!!"
We have waited so long for a victory away at Aston Villa, and whoever scored the winning goal would always be a legend in Albion eyes. But it was not just the goal from Scharner, it was his all round performance. Scharner had many brilliant games last year, but he will be the first to admit that this season he hasn’t been at his best. Until now! The past two games Scharner has come back to being the player that Albion fans loved last year, with tackles flying in, some great attacking runs and of course, some brilliant celebrations with the fans.(See the boing boing after Saturday’s game)
It is not just Scharner who emerges from the game as a hero to the fans, it is the whole team. Even with a man advantage, a win is never a foregone conclusion. Just ask the Villa fans that, especially after last year’s game where Scharner was sent off only for Albion to win 2-1. But Albion retained the ball well in the 2nd half, they sustained pressure around the box and they managed to keep the opposition attacking threat at an arm’s length.
The afternoon did not start off too well for the Baggies, with Shane Long having to be replaced at the 20 minute mark. Long was forced into being replaced after a quite frankly disgraceful challenge from Alan Hutton, who escaped with no punishment. Not content with that, Hutton then had another kick at Long for which he did get booked. But he shouldn’t have been on the pitch to have another kick, the first of a series of debatable calls from the officials. That man Scharner called it correct again when he said that Villa targeted Long, but in my opinion it was more than that, they were intent on taking him out of the game as early as possible.
And things didn’t get much better for Albion as a mix-up between Ben Foster and Steven Reid, akin to the mix up between Foster and Gabriel Tamas against Stoke, led to Foster bringing Agbonlahor to ground. Darren Bent stepped up to convert the penalty, and then celebrated in front of the Baggies fans. It looked like we were in for another long afternoon.
Then came another moment of controversy. Chris Brunt put a free kick into the box and the ball was headed away, only for the linesman to be seen waving his flag vehemently. Dowd eventually spotted this and signalled a penalty, with Villa’s young midfielder Chris Herd given a red car for an alleged stomp on Jonas Olsson. The big Swede seemed as confused as anyone, but certainly he was as happy as the travelling support. This mood soon changed though as skipper Brunt stepped up only to blaze the penalty horribly wide of the goal.
It looked like Albion would be heading into the break one man up, but one goal down. But then they won a corner, and Brunt whipped in a perfect delivery which Jonas Olsson headed into the net. And it could have been even better for the Albion, with Odemwingie firing in past Given only to be given offside by the tightest of margins.
Into the 2nd half and Albion’s man advantage was certainly telling, they retained the ball well enough to keep the attacking threat to a minimum. It was from a corner that Jonas Olsson headed over an easier chance than the one he scored in the first half. But the Baggies didn’t have to wait long, a minute later and Albion had another corner. Again Brunt produced a brilliant delivery, the ball bouncing up and Scharner taking it on the chest, then volleying in off the underside of the bar. He once again revealed the T-Shirt that angered the Wolves players the previous week, but it delighted the boinging Baggies.
It could have been more for Albion, with Peter Odemwingie having a complete air-shot from a Somen Tchoyi square ball.
But we wouldn't want to be too greedy would we?
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