Valerien Ismael thanks West Brom team for making ‘sacrifice’ worth it

The Baggies boss celebrated his birthday with a table-topping win at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Valérien Ismaël celebrated his 46th birthday in style as West Bromwich Albion thrashed Cardiff City 4-0 to make his ‘sacrifice’ worthwhile.

Karlan Grant, Alex Mowatt and Matt Phillips all found the net in the rout in what was an impressive display for the Baggies.

Grant found the net in the first five minutes that completely threw Cardiff’s game plan of sitting deep with their five-man defence.

A freakish own goal from Curtis Nelson gave them a two-goal cushion before Mowatt and Phillips compounded the home side’s misery.

Ismaël had two reasons to celebrate as the win took them top of the Championship, whilst he also claimed a win on his birthday, which he had to celebrate in South Wales, rather than with his family.

“I want to give a massive thank you to the players for the performance and the three points,” he said.

“At a time when you could be celebrating with your family, you need to make a sacrifice and when you see a game and a performance like that, it’s worth it sometimes.

“We are now moving more towards my vision for this team. I want us to stay confident and move further in the right direction.”

West Brom were the only team that looked like playing football with neat intricate passing, an emphasis on keeping possession and moving the ball quickly.

Cardiff meanwhile, known for their physicality, set up to frustrate but they were completely undone by a stellar performance from the visiting side.

It brought back reminders of the wins over Luton, Sheffield United and Blackburn in which after scoring first, the game was settled and went into West Brom’s favour.

A delightful night for the Baggies as they were top draw against a disjointed Cardiff. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

"We knew tonight the main focus was to get the ball down,"

"We set the tone in the game and we moved the ball quickly.

"All the goals were brilliant, it showed the confidence and mentality in the team. We have a great feeling. We work altogether.

“It was a great evening for us.”

“It was a great evening for us; it was a similar situation to Luton, to Sheffield United, to Blackburn - when we score first, we know we can set the tone in the game and we moved the ball quickly.

“We knew we had to keep the ball in play and we made it perfectly in the first half. Second half, we knew we had to stay on the front foot against Cardiff and defend their set pieces and long ball."

Even the introduction of Kieffer Moore, who scored 20 goals last season and netted for Wales at EURO 2020 didn’t cause the West Brom backline any problems.

Moore could only watch on from the sidelines as his teammate scored an own goal before being introduced in the 67th minute, where he was well marshalled by Kyle Bartley and Semi Ajayi.

“Kieffer Moore was on the bench, and you knew Cardiff would do something in the second half,” added Ismael.

“The first nine, ten minutes Cardiff were strong, but we were really stable and we scored the second goal at the right time.“

Attention now turns to Friday night when they travel to the bet365 stadium to face Midlands rivals Stoke City.

The Potters were held to a 1-1 draw by Preston North End yesterday and are fourth in the league, trailing the league leaders by four points.

“We work together, but now as I said to the guys and I say to you the same - let’s focus on Friday night.

“We have another difficult away game and we need to recover. We need another forceful performance to finish the week positively, and to make sure we do the right thing on Friday night.”