West Brom picked up a hard-earned point at Manchester City on Tuesday evening, largely down to the heroics of Sam Johnstone between the sticks as he pulled off numerous point-blank saves to deny the home side at the death.
The Baggies remain second-from-bottom but it’s certainly a point gained rather than any lost.
Ilkay Gundogan finished off a fine City move with a first-time strike on the half-hour mark before Semi Ajayi’s volley on the turn deflected in off Ruben Dias just two minutes from the break.
The Nigerian colossus along with the Albion shot-stopper received most of the plaudits from commentators and press alike, but there was another visiting star that deserves to be in the equation too.
Grady Diangana was somewhat a sacrificial lamb for Slaven Bilic in Manchester – instead of being his usual dynamic bundle of energy self in attack, he was astute defensively and helped nullify the threat of City on the wings.
Per SofaScore, the 22-year-old won ten of 17 duels and also made four tackles (more than any player on the pitch), three interceptions, one clearance and one block.
Valued at £9m by CIES, Diangana still caused some trouble upfront, pulling off three of four dribbles as well as recording 38 touches, the second-most of any Albion player.
BirminghamLive graded the former West Ham enigma a seven out of ten, and claimed:
“After a slow start, during which time City exploited the wings because of the lack of cover, Diangana grew into the game.
He did lose Sterling for the goal, but after a word from Bilic, he attended to those duties more diligently.
On the ball, he was better than he has been – he took the game to City with his dribbling, quick feet and positive passing.”
After being snubbed from the starting XI against Newcastle last time out, Diangana truly bounced back with an encouraging display that should see his place cemented back in the side for the foreseeable.
Forget Johnstone and Ajayi, the tricky speed demon deserves plenty of praise too.