West Brom star Ahmed Hegazi was the star man at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday as the Baggies stumbled across the finishing line to take all three points against Stoke.
It was a tightly fought contest against two teams who suffered the drop from the Premier League last season, and it seemed as thought only a moment of individual brilliance would break the deadlock after a cagey opening 20 minutes.
Amazingly, it was an unlikely source in Hegazi who played a vital role in nicking the opening goal, displaying the technical ability and vision of a world-class attacker to volley a lofted free-kick across goal and into the path of Dwight Gayle, who could barely miss.
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Whilst that will undoubtedly be the moment under the spotlight, it was the Egyptian’s excellent defensive work that saw the points return to the Hawthorns, and frustrate the Potters on a day where they were unlucky to lose.
The 28-year-old, along with his stunning assist, made a whopping eight clearances and a huge five aerial duels as he successfully nullified the threat of Stoke new boy Sam Vokes up top with former Baggie James McClean.
Hegazi also managed to record three tackles, and blocked one shot to round off a heroic display at the back for Darren Moore’s promotion chasers, and the win takes them to within just seven points of the top of the table with a game in hand.
West Brom are the Championship’s joint-top scorers with 60 goals to their name, but you need defensive solidarity at the back to make the efforts of Gayle and Jay Rodriguez up top count.
A back four of Kieran Gibbs, Craig Dawson and Mason Holgate alongside Hegazi is arguably one of the best in the second tier, but the Egyptian is leading his teammates to clean sheets that would perhaps have gotten away from them without his impact.