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Vela earns West Brom 1-1 draw against Stoke

March 01, 2011

West Bromwich Albion's Carlos Vela, centre, scores past Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, left. -AP Photo

STOKE: West Bromwich Albion climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone on Monday after Carlos Vela's late equalizer secured a 1-1 draw at Stoke.

Rory Delap had given Stoke the lead in the 53rd minute, but Vela secured a point when he slotted in from Steven Reid's cross in the 86th, although television replays suggested he was offside. The Mexico forward also scored an injury-time equalizer last weekend against Wolverhampton Wanderers, after joining on loan from Arsenal.

Vela had two clear chances to score a winner in the last minute of stoppage time, but was denied by goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

“We've not played well tonight, it's as poor as we've played all season,” said Stoke manager Tony Pulis, who was angry with the linesman for missing the offside on Vela.

“Looking at their goal, it's a shocking decision. If he can't get that decision right what's he doing officiating at our level? We'll just get on with it ... our players made bad decisions too.”

West Brom is now in 17th place on 29 points, one point ahead of relegation rivals Wolves and West Ham. Stoke climbed to 10th, on 34 points.

The result left West Brom manager Roy Hodgson still looking for his first victory after taking two points from his first two matches since succeeding Roberto Di Matteo.

After the game, Hodgson had to apologize to Stoke after one of his players identified by Pulis as defender Jonas Olsson broke a picture hanging in the tunnel out of frustration after the match.

“One of our players has unfortunately decided to test his strength by having a little fight with a picture,” Hodgson said.

“I'm afraid he won and the picture was broken, which is disappointing. We apologized and I'm sure we'll pay for the picture. I'm sure Stoke won't be too bothered but it takes the gloss off when I'm discussing pretty meaningless incidents and we've worked as hard has we have.”

After a mediocre first half, Delap rose highest to head home Jermaine Pennant's corner from three yards out in the 53rd minute.

The goal injected some life into the game, with Begovic saving Graham Dorrans' header with his legs after it deflected wickedly off Ryan Shawcross and then watching helplessly as Marc-Antoine Fortune's looping header dropped onto the crossbar and over.

West Brom pressed for an equalizer and had a bit of luck three minutes from time. Reid swung in a right-wing cross and Vela controlled the ball before poking it past Begovic from close range despite appearing to have come back from an offside position.

There was still enough time for Begovic to be required to make three crucial saves as West Brom pushed for a last-gasp winner, including rushing out to deny Vela after he had been played clear in the area.