A bizarre goal from Colin Kazim-Richards saw the Derby put aside their acquisition uncertainty and beat West Brom 1-0 at Pride Park.
Kazim-Richards’ first league goal since April led to streak victories for Wayne Rooney’s side for the first time since February, after the substitute punished a terrible exchange between Cedric Kipre and goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.
The goal was the Derby’s only shot on goal, but it was enough to make another star’s nose bloody after beating Bournemouth and equalizing with leaders Fulham.
And it came after West Brom, who could have briefly gone second with a win, dominated the first half, only to waste chances.
The potential acquisition of the Derby by US businessman Chris Kirchner was canceled on Christmas Eve, with club administrators saying an announcement on an alternative preferred bidder is “imminent”.
Visitors got the first chance. A bad shot from Ryan Allsop saw Grady Diangana get too close to the derby goalkeeper.
The Rams’ first chance saw Jason Knight fly from 20 yards, but his shot stopped a team mate and crossed the crossbar by inches.
West Brom seemed the most likely scorer, albeit mostly from set pieces.
Jake Livermore’s shot was deflected wide by Richard Stearman, Kipre slipped into the far post and Liam Thompson deflected, but Allsop choked after Conor Townsend kicked in from Adam Reach’s free-kick.
Reach headed Allsop after Kyle Bartley headed a corner of Darnell Furlong into the danger area, then Allsop choked on Callum Robinson’s low shot after Livermore passed forward.
Albion had the ball in the net in the 53rd minute when Reach’s free-kick was sent home by Kyle Bartley, but the offside flag was immediately raised.
Derby made a double substitution in an effort to force the problem in the 57th minute when Kazim-Richards and Ravel Morrison replaced Luke Plange and Sam Baldock.
The changes took effect immediately when the Rams took the decisive step forward in a bizarre way a minute later.
Kipre nodded a high ball to Johnstone, who had come out of the penalty area to face him. He headed straight for Kazim-Richards’ course, who went sideways into an empty net from 25 yards.
Bartley sent Allsop a header from Furlong’s long lineout as Albion tried to respond.
Matt Clarke had a golden opportunity to equalize when he was presented with an unsigned header from Kipre’s cross, but could only nod over the crossbar.
Substitute Jordan Hugill then wasted another chance for the Baggies when he deflected to the side from teammate Tom Fellows’ cross.
In the closing seconds, Bartley’s header was brilliantly reversed by Allsop on Robinson’s cross.
The Derby will now go to Stoke on Thursday 30 December at 7.45pm in the league, while West Brom’s next game is at home to Cardiff on 2 January at 2pm after Thursday night’s home game against Preston was postponed to due to Covid.