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West Bromwich Albion 2 : 0 Cardiff City

West Bromwich Albion achieved a league double over Cardiff City for the first time since the 1974-75 campaign with Cardiff now winless in their last four league visits to the Hawthorns.

West Bromwich Albion kept the pressure up on their play-off rivals with a win over Cardiff City that dealt another blow to the Bluebirds’ promotion hopes.

The hosts made a dream start as Mikey Johnston swept the ball home in the first minute at the Hawthorns.

Cardiff’s Kion Etete fired over the bar with the Bluebirds’ best chance to find an equaliser in a game of few chances.

Andreas Weimann made the points safe for the hosts by turning home Jed Wallace’s cross on 80 minutes.

The win keeps West Brom fifth in the Championship, while Cardiff are now eight points off the play-off spots in 14th.

This was a contest that will be quickly forgotten with both sides short of their best, but nevertheless it represents an important victory for the hosts who were always in control.

Home boss Carlos Corberan made three changes to the side that drew 2-2 against Ipswich on Saturday with John Swift earning a start after scoring at Portman Road.

However, the main focus for Albion was on a player not starting, with the West Brom players all warming up in number 12 shirts in tribute to their team-mate Daryl Dike.

Dike is out for the season after he suffered another ruptured Achilles tendon after only nine minutes of a sub appearance at Ipswich.

Dike had been making his fifth appearance of the season during an already injury-disrupted campaign having missed nine months of 2023 with a separate Achilles injury suffered last April.

Cardiff boss Erol Bulut made five changes to his side after their defeat at home to Preston, with the Bluebirds’ play-off prospects looking increasingly remote as they continue to slip off the pace.

Goalkeeper Ethan Horvath made his Cardiff debut in his first appearance since last season’s Championship play-off final, while Josh Wilson-Esbrand and Famara Diedhiou were both handed first starts in the Cardiff attack.

The visitors were desperately seeking a change to their faltering form, but they could not have made a worse start as they fell behind when Johnston swept home following Tom Fellows’ powerful run and pinpoint cross after just 32 seconds.

West Brom had won each of their last four home league games, keeping a clean sheet in three of those victories, and there was an element of control about their performance after the early goal dented Cardiff’s already fragile confidence.

The Bluebirds were a threat at set-pieces, but Nat Phillips and Dimitrios Goutas both missed the target with headers.

Most of the action was at the other end with Alex Mowatt and Johnston failing to test Horvath – who did save from Brandon Thomas-Asante – as the Baggies sought a second goal by pinning Cardiff back and causing them countless problems on the flanks, with Fellows particularly impressive.

Cardiff rung the changes in a bid to get back into things with Wales captain Aaron Ramsey introduced just past the hour mark and he was instantly into the action, but the former Arsenal man could only head Perry Ng’s teasing cross back across goal as it begged for a decisive touch.

West Brom’s failure to double their advantage encouraged Cardiff and the visitors should have levelled on 70 minutes when Ramsey again headed back across goal, but Etete fired over from eight yards out as he leaned back and misjudged his shot.

The miss cost Cardiff and the hosts sealed their win with 10 minutes remaining as Weimann slid the ball home from close range after Wallace’s assured run and cross.

Wallace might have added a late third, with Cardiff once again well beaten as a season that initially promised much continues to peter away.

Cardiff City boss Erol Bulut told: “The first minute was not great for us, concentration, a one-versus-one situation and again we concede a goal.

“We had the chances to make it 1-1, in the second half especially with Kion [Etete] and [Aaron] Ramsey.

“When they scored the second it was difficult to change the game, because it was close to the end of the match.

“If you concede so early, in the first minute, it is not easy after that. We tried really hard in the second half to score. We had the chances, but in the final third we were not effective with our final shot.”