Derby County put on a sensational performance to shut down West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns with a stunning 4-1 victory.
Frank Lampard’s men were faced with a tough ask following the international break with a line-up of three out of the four Championship leaders, but they have stood up and delivered. After knocking off Sheffield United on Saturday, the Rams dismantled West Brom to hand them their first defeat at home since their season opener.
Jack Marriott opened the scoring with his third goal in as many matches and moments later the lead was doubled by Tom Lawrence. His Wales teammate Harry Wilson has garnered a formidable reputation for his free-kicks recently, but it was his rocket after finding space at the edge of the box that took the lead to three.
Scott Malone bagged his first goal for the Rams to run away with the lead before Jay Rodriguez pulled back a consolation goal in the final minutes.
The Rams’ high-press was causing problems from the offset and inside ten minutes had already proven too tough for the Baggies to handle. Rodriguez’s attempt to back pass to Sam Johnson was derailed as Marriott swooped in and fired home from just inside the left of the box.
Five minutes later and Derby had cushioned their lead. Albion captain Chris Brunt had just failed to grab the equaliser from a dangerously positioned free-kick that flew wide when Lawrence made it two for the visitors. Wilson fed out to the Welsh winger on the left who danced his way into the box, cut inside then took aim across goal and it ricocheted off the inside of the post and past Johnstone.
The two goals for Derby were a credit to the way they had dominated the first-half and they lead could have been a lot greater with an abundance of chances coming again after half an hour. Lawrence looked to add an assist to his goal with a clever backheel pass to Scott Malone in the box and the full-backs shot was batted away for the Rams to continue their attack. Lawrence had a shot palmed out for a corner. The resulting corner saw a powerful volley from Tom Huddlestone denied by the Baggies ‘keeper.
Scott Carson made back-to-back saves to extinguish the only two flashes of attack shown by Albion in the opening 45. The Rams ‘keeper got down on a low cross by Rodriguez who was looking for Dwight Gayle before denying Rodriguez shot moments later.
The Rams were equally impressive in the second-half with every attack building up to great chances. Minutes after the break, centre-back Fikayo Tomori showed off some rapid pace down the left flank, inching away from his man before squaring up to Mason Mount who fed it out to Wilson, but his shot was just wide.
Two minutes later, however, Wilson’s rocket from the edge of the area was going nowhere other than the back of the net. Marriott had done well to win the ball back to set up the Welsh man.
Either side of Derby’s third goal, Harvey Barnes came close to pulling one back. His first effort curled wonderfully beyond the far post and his second came as a result to a rare West Brom fast break but missed the target.
Derby’s dismantling for fun wasn’t over yet. Mason Bennett has shown time and again this season his ability to impact games. Moments after coming off the bench, he slipped the ball through traffic to Malone for the full-back to fire in his first Derby goal.
Rodriguez finally got his goal late in the game as he weaved through in the box and put the Baggies only goal past Carson.
The victory moves the Rams up to fifth, level on points with the Baggies and two behind leaders Leeds United, Sheffield United and their next opponent, Middlesbrough.
West Brom: Johnstone; Adarabioyo, Dawson, Bartley; Phillips (Morrison, 62), Field, Brunt (C), Gibbs (Mears, 46); Barnes; Rodriguez, Gayle (Robson-Kanu, 46)
Unused Subs: Myhill, Sako, Edwards, Hoolahan
Derby County: Carson; Bogle, Keogh (C), Tomori, Malone (Forsyth, 81); Mount, Huddlestone, Wilson; Waghorn (Nugent, 72), Marriott (Bennett, 67), Lawrence
Unused Subs: Johnson, Roos, Holmes, Davies
On a night where goals were pouring in for the Rams, it was Tom Huddlestone's composure in the midfield that stood out most. The 31-year-old has had to be patient this season to earn his starting role, but over the past two games he has been one of the biggest influences for Derby.
His ability to be the pivot and direct the attack to either side was vital in the Rams' dominance at The Hawthornes.
Derby County will travel to the North East to face Middlesbrough on Saturday in the Sky Bet Championship, kick-off 12:30pm. The Rams will then play their third consecutive away game when they switch their attention to the Carabao Cup for a Fourth Round meeting with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next Wednesday evening.