Albion are out of the Carabao Cup after a dramatic defeat on penalties against Leicester City.
Albion twice came from behind in a pulsating tie at the King Power Stadium. Adam Webster marked his return after injury by equalising in first-half stoppage time, only for Ademola Lookman to restore the lead Harvey Barnes had given Leicester early on.
Then in the second half, substitute Enock Mwepu scored his first goal for the club with a header. Both sides might have won it in normal time but penalties it was and Leicester held their nerve, converting all four while Neal Maupay hit the bar and Mwepu’s evening was spoiled slightly when Danny Ward saved his effort.
Graham Potter made eight changes to the team that lost to Manchester City with Dan Burn, Joel Veltman and Pascal Gross, who captained the team, back in action. Webster was back after recovering from a hamstring injury and there were starts for Haydon Roberts and Jeremy Sarmiento.
Jurgen Locadia, Aaron Connolly and Sarimiento were Albion’s attacking trident and they made a positive start but found themselves behind after just six minutes. Barnes robbed Webster as he controlled a pass from goalkeeper Jason Steele and the Leicester striker strode forward before driving a right-foot shot into the bottom corner.
Hardly the start Albion wanted on a ground where their recent record is not great and they could have been two down after 20 minutes. Patson Daka burst into the box down the left and his pull-back was met sweetly by Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall in space just inside the box. Fortunately for Albion his right-foot shot came back off the bar.
Moments later Shane Duffy dived to head clear a close-range header from Jannik Vestergaard that was heading for the bottom corner.
Albion rode out the storm and enjoyed a good spell before the break. Their threat from set pieces was evident when Duffy met Gross’s corner with a header which forced Danny Ward into his first save. Alexis Mac Allister was enjoying plenty of room in midfield while Sarmiento’s control and willingness to run at defenders was another productive outlet.
The equaliser came in first-half stoppage time. Duffy again won Gross’s corner in the air and when the ball dropped in the six-yard box Webster swept it home. The corner had been won by Mac Allister, whose dipping effort from the edge of the box after eye-catching work by Sarmiento had been tipped over at full stretch by Ward.
But Albion’s joy was short-lived. Sarmiento played a pass back to Steele without noticing Lookman who couldn’t believe his luck as he rolled the ball into the far corner and Sarmiento buried his head in his hands. For the second time on the night Albion were their own worst enemy.
Dan Burn, who hurt his knee just before the break, was replaced by Enock Mwepu at the break and Albion had a good chance to equalise in the 54th minute. Connolly timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap and race onto Mac Allister's pass, but his effort lacked power and drifts wide of the upright. Connolly’s frustrated reaction said it all, it was a good chance.
Mwepu’s effort from the edge of the box moments later would have tested Ward had it not taken a big deflection away from goal but Albion had a let-off in the 62nd minute. Once again they coughed up possession in a dangerous area and after Steele made a great block to deny Barnes, Duffy did even better to prevent James Maddison from scoring with his first touch after coming on.
Lewis Dunk, Yves Bissouma, Marc Cucurella and Neal Maupay came on with a third of the game to go as Albion looked for a way back and within two minutes of his introduction Cucurella had made his mark, standing up a cross to the far post from the left which Mwepu met with a powerful header back across goal and past Ward and a defender on the line. 2-2. Game on!
Both sides really went for it in the closing stages although neither created the clear chance that would have won it in 90 minutes.
To penalties. And while Maddison, Barnes, Daka and Ricardo Pereira all scored for Leicester, Maupay’s effort hit the bar and Ward plunged to his left to keep out Mwepu’s effort. Leicester through but Albion played their part in a very entertaining cup tie.
Albion: Steele, Webster (Bissouma 63)), Duffy, Roberts (Cucurella 70), Veltman (Dunk 63), Burn (Mwepu 45), Gross, Mac Allister, Sarmiento (Maupay 69), Connolly, Locadia. Unused subs: Scherpen, Leonard, Tsoungui, Offiah.