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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
16:59 2th April 2011

Albion 2 Liverpool 1

ROY Hodgson guided Albion to their first-ever Barclays Premier League goals and points - at the tenth time of asking - against his former club.

The Baggies had lost their previous nine meetings against Liverpool.

And they faced another uphill battle when they undeservedly fell behind to Martin Skrtel's 50th-minute header - making it a Premier League aggregate of 26-0 in the Reds' favour.

But Chris Brunt brought that terrible run to an end when he converted a 62nd-minute penalty after Peter Odemwingie had been felled by sub Sotirios Kyrgiakos.

And the skipper was coolness personified again in the final minute when he smashed home another - and this time decisive - spot-kick after Pepe Reina had brought down the impressive Odemwingie.

Hodgson's first home win - which extended Albion's unbeaten run to six games - was richly deserved as Reina was by far the busier of the two keepers.

And it took the Baggies' Premier League points tally to a club-record high of 36.

Simon Cox made his first start in seven games as Hodgson rang one enforced change after James Morrison was ruled out by a thigh injury suffered in training on Thursday.

Graham Dorrans (ankle), Gabriel Tamas (thigh) and Somen Tchoyi (family reasons) were also unavailable.

Kenny Dalglish named an unchanged Reds team from their 2-0 win at Sunderland 13 days ago, with skipper Steven Gerrard not yet fit enough to return.

Albion started the game in 16th place after West Ham, the team directly below them, threw away a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 at home to Manchester United in the day's early kick-off.

A sell-out home crowd got right behind Hodgson's men from the first whistle, although it was Liverpool who recorded the first shots of the game.

With only 23 seconds on the clock, Luis Suarez found room inside the box but tamely chipped straight at former Anfield keeper Scott Carson.

However, Liverpool, who had lost just one of their previous nine league games, went much closer in the second minute.

Carson had to pull off a fine point-blank save to deny Dirk Kuyt who had latched onto Andy Carroll's header from Raul Meireles' corner. The rebound flew straight to Kuyt whose instinctive volley from six yards clipped the bar and flew over.

The visitors suffered an injury blow after only eight minutes when England full-back Glen Johnson limped off and was replaced by Kyrgiakos.

Albion were very much on the back foot during the opening stages and Youssouf Mulumbu's last-ditch interception denied Suarez a clear sight of goal.

The Baggies recorded their first effort on goal on 15 when Cox saw a weak 20-yard drive deflect off Skrtel and sail straight to Reina.

Liverpool were soon back on the attack but Kuyt fired a half-chance wide from 15 yards from Suarez's lay-off.

The Baggies gradually began to get a foothold in the game and Reina had to be on his toes to keep out Brunt's 30-yard free-kick, saving low at his right-hand post.

And the Reds suffered another injury setback on 25 when Daniel Agger had to be replaced by Danny Wilson.

Albion began to enjoy their own spell of pressure and Brunt wasn't far away from connecting with Odemwingie's dangerous centre.

And Steven Reid tested Reina for the first time in the 34th minute when the Spaniard did well to hold onto the right-back's downward header from Brunt's lofted free-kick.

Albion continued to attack and Reina showed a terrific pair of hands to keep out Odemwingie's acute drive after the Nigerian had held off both Lucas Leiva and Jamie Carragher.

Reina had to be at full stretch again moments later to keep his side level after Skrtel inadvertently flicked Jerome Thomas' centre towards his own goal.

Albion were well on top and, on 40, a terrific Thomas tackle on Suarez led to a shooting chance for Odemwingie, who curled well wide from 15 yards.

Brunt brought a satisfying half to an end with two 25-yard daisy-cutters which flew straight at Reina - and the home support showed their appreciation for Albion's efforts by cheering them off at the interval.

Albion continued where they had left off after the restart and almost snatched the lead within 30 seconds.

Brunt set up the chance with a delightful dink over the Reds' defence and Cox saw his vicious volley brilliantly pushed away by Reina.

Liverpool threatened for the first time in a long while when Carroll brought down Carragher's diagonal ball and saw his first-time effort tipped over by Carson.

But it proved brief respite for the Baggies who conceded from the resulting corner.

Meireles' 50th-minute flag-kick was guided into the top left-hand corner by a superb Skrtel header.

Albion regrouped and began to keep Liverpool pegged back again.

But that left space at the other end which, in the 56th minute, Kuyt advanced into before seeing his 18-yard drive kept out by Carson's knees.

Back came Albion and Brunt seized on a loose ball on the edge of the Reds box, only to see his right-footed effort kept out by Reina.

But their pressure finally told on 62 when they won a penalty after Odemwingie was scythed down in the box by Kyrgiakos. Brunt made no mistake, sending Reina the wrong way from 12 yards.

The noise inside The Hawthorns was deafening and Odemwingie got the home hordes on their feet again when he jinked inside Kyrgiakos before seeing his fierce drive well saved by Reina at his near post.

A minute later, Liverpool went close themselves when Suarez pulled the ball back for Meireles whose first-time effort fizzed wide of the far post.

But it was Albion who continued to look the most likely scorers and Carragher denied Odemwingie what looked a certain goal when his last-ditch lunge blocked the striker's drive from Thomas' set-up.

Reina had to pull off another smart stop six minutes from time to keep out Thomas' right-footed curler.

But Reina was the villain in the dying minutes when he felled Odemwingie in the box to concede a second penalty, after the former Lille forward had outmuscled Kyrgiakos.

And Brunt again made no mistake, smashing the spot-kick into the left-hand corner.

Liverpool piled on the pressure during stoppage time and there were a couple of scares.

Carson denied Meireles' 20-yard drive with a smart save low at his near post.

From Meireles' ensuing corner, Skrtel headed just wide after Suarez had flicked on.

And, in the 92nd minute, Carson capped a terrific game by brilliantly denying Suarez in a goalmouth scramble.

A minute later, Albion hearts were truly in their mouths as Suarez's chip arced towards the empty net - but Nicky Shorey saved the Baggies' bacon by heading it off the line.

The Hawthorns literally erupted moments later when referee Martin Atkinson blew for full-time - signalling Albion's first win over Liverpool in 30 years.

ALBION (4-2-3-1): Carson; Reid, Meite, Olsson, Shorey; Mulumbu, Scharner; Brunt, Cox (Fortuné 74), Thomas (Jara 90+1); Odemwingie. Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Cech, Ibanez, Vela, Zuiverloon.

LIVERPOOL (4-4-2): Reina; Carragher, Skrtel, Agger (Wilson 25), Johnson (Kyrgiakos 8); Kuyt (Cole 87), Spearing, Lucas, Meireles; Carroll, Suarez. Subs not used: Gulacsi (gk), Rodriguez, N'Gog, Poulsen.

GOALS: ALBION - Brunt (pen 62 & 89). LIVERPOOL - Skrtel (50).

BOOKINGS: ALBION - Scharner (foul 27), Thomas (foul 86). LIVERPOOL - Carroll (foul 28), Wilson (foul 43), Reina (foul 87).

REFEREE: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).

ATTENDANCE: 26.196.

ALBION STARMAN: Chris Brunt.

PIC: TWO GOOD...Brunt celebrates with Odemwingie after converting his first penalty

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    Data provided by Press Association

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