Slaven Bilic was pleased enough with West Brom’s 90-minute display, if not the outcome of their penalty shoot-out, as they bowed out of the Carabao Cup at the third round to Championship Brentford.
If Albion are to end their silverware drought this year – a period that has lasted more than 50 years – it won’t be in this competition after the Bees prevailed 5-4 in the shoot-out, following an entertaining 2-2 draw in normal time.
Hal Robson-Kanu’s penalty double was cancelled out by an Emiliano Marcondes stunner and a spot-kick from Albion academy product Marcus Forss. A run of 11 successfully converted penalties ended when David Raya denied Grady Diangana.
Bilic saw enough from his players to encourage him, and maintained that Cedric Kipre could count himself unfortunate for his part in the awarding of the penalty that Forss plundered.
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“Especially at 2-1, we didn’t look like a team who was hanging onto the lead,” Bilic said. “We were quite comfortable, searching to score the third one.
“There are no hard feelings, but it wasn’t a penalty from Cedric – it was a great challenge with great timing. Unfortunately the ref gave it. After that, the penalties are always a bit of a lottery.
“Very disappointed with the result, but very pleased with the way we played as a team – there were a few very good individual performances.”
Much is made of the idea that clubs such as Albion, who will naturally prioritise their Premier League campaign and survival, don’t give much thought to competitions such as this cup.
As has been already mentioned, Baggies supporters have waited years – certainly generations – to see their club lift a major trophy, even if the league form nowadays does indeed take precedence over all else.
Bilic waved away the notion that their premature exit from this competition was a ‘blessing in disguise’, however.
“We wanted to go through,” he insisted. “You want to win every game and we have a big enough squad to. That game, against Fulham or Sheff Wed, we wouldn’t have had to travel.
“It doesn’t harm your training – this is perfect training, and preparation for the Chelsea game for the players who didn’t play against Everton.
“It’s not a blessing in disguise, we wanted to go through. Of course, our big time priority is the Premier League, but we wanted to go through.”