EGYPTIAN defender Ahmed Hegazi made a ‘Pharaoh,’ start to his West Brom career, scoring after half an hour of his Premier League debut to bury Bournemouth.
The 6ft5” powerhouse soared above Andrew Surman and stretched to head Chris Brunt’s in-swinging free kick through Asmir Begovic’s legs from close range.
The giant stopper has quickly emerged as a cult figure with Baggies fans after impressing in pre-season at the Asia Trophy in Hong Kong with his muscular style and no-nonsense defending.
Tony Pulis has been linked with moves for Barcelona’s Thomas Vermaelen and Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson.
However Hegazi looks a real steal as Albion have landed him on a year’s loan deal from Egyptian Premier League side Al Ahly, with an option to buy the 26-year-old.
The fact Albion’s winner should come from a set-piece should surprise no-one. Tony Pulis’s side have cornered the market in dead-ball situations and 49% of their goals last season came from set plays.
Despite having a fraction of Bournemouth’s possession (the Cherries had 70% of the ball in the first half) – Albion did more with their 30% and looked a constant threat on the break.
Tony Pulis raised eyebrows by benching last season’s top scorer Salomon Rondon at the start but his replacement, £12million summer signing Jay Rodriguez, was a constant threat with his pace and willingness to shoot on sight.
He proved a real handful for Eddie Howe’s side forcing Begovic into a hat-trick of first half saves before he almost scored a sensational opener with a clever curling shot which crept inches wide of the far post, shortly before Hegazi’s opener.
Eddie Howe tried to play it safe with Jermaine Defoe’s groin strain, leaving his summer signing on the bench at the start.
However the desperate Cherries boss sent him on Benik Afobe after 64 minutes as his side failed to make any impression on Baggies’ well-drilled defence.
Ben Foster raced from his line a couple of times to deny Charlie Daniels and Josh King with brave saves at their feet.
But Bournemouth lacked any cutting edge and Albion thoroughly deserved their first win since mid-March – having taken just two points from their last nine games last season!
INTERACTIVE LINE-UPS– CLICK on a player’s number below to see their stats
West Brom: Foster 7, Nyom 6, Dawson 7, Hegazi 8, Brunt 7, Yacob 7, Phillips 7 (Robson-Kanu 71, 5), Field 6 (Harper 69, 6), Livermore 7, McClean 7, Rodriguez 6 (Rondon 88, 6)
Subs not used: Myhill, Chadli, Leko, Wilson
Booked: Yacob, Rodriguez
Bournemouth: Begovic 7, Francis 7 (Smith 80, 6), Cook 6, Ake 7, Daniels 6, Fraser 6, Surman 6, Arter 6, Pugh 5 (Ibe 45, 6), King 6, Afobe 6 (Defoe 63, 6)
Subs not used: Boruc, Gosling, Mings, Mousset
STAR MAN: AHMED HEGAZI
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe: "The build-up to the goal was very disappointing - we gave away a needless free-kick, and against West Brom that is a dangerous thing.
"We have had enough football in pre-season to be ready, and I thought we were ready. The pitch was slow, and that is not an excuse. All our substitutes came on and gave us a bounce effect.
"We had our best spell towards the end of the game. I expected us to have the possession that we did but I thought we would have been more creative with it."
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