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16:54 29th August 2010

Liverpool 1 Albion 0

VALIANT Albion were cruelly denied a deserved point at Anfield by Fernando Torres' clinical 65th-minute strike.

It was a rare chance in the game for the Reds' World Cup winner as the Baggies largely snuffed out the Reds' attacking threat.

Roberto Di Matteo's men also impressed at the opposite end as their new-look strikefore, spearheaded by Marc-Antoine Fortuné, posed plenty of problems for the hosts.

It was an encouraging display by Albion as they exorcised the ghost of their opening-day 6-0 defeat at another of the traditional top-four teams, Chelsea.

Unfortunately, the afternoon was marred by a harsh James Morrison red card for a slightly-late challenge on Torres four minutes from time.

Fortuné made his second Baggies debut as Di Matteo made two changes to his previous Barclays Premier League XI.

Peter Odemwingie moved to the right wing as Chris Brunt was switched to the left in place of the injured Jerome Thomas (twisted ankle).

Nicky Shorey, the only survivor from the midweek Carling Cup starting line-up that beat Leyton Orient, was handed his first Albion league start as he replaced Marek Cech (foot) at left-back.

The Reds were back to full strength after their Europa League play-off victory in Trabzonspor three days earlier.

Liverpool threatened first in the third minute as Torres cut inside Gonzalo Jara from the left and fired in an 18-yard shot which Scott Carson, back on his old stomping ground, gathered just under his own crossbar.

The Baggies made an immediate reply as Morrison controlled 30 yards out and pushed forward before sending a low shot wide of the left-hand post from just outside the box.

Odemwingie gifted possession to Steven Gerrard in the eighth minute and he slipped the ball to Torres, whose shot from inside the area was blocked by the former Lokomotiv Moscow man who made amends for his mistake.

A quick move from back to front saw Morrison slip Fortuné in on the right-hand side of the penalty area - but the former Celtic hitman sliced his shot horribly wide of the near post.

Fortuné picked up a loose ball from Dorrans' 24th-minute corner and played a one-two with Jonas Olsson on the right-hand side of the area before seeing Pepe Reina gather his low 15-yard drive.

Gerrard's quickly-taken free-kick to Lucas in the 36th minute saw the Brazilian's long-range effort deflect into the path of Dirk Kuyt, whose attempt to put the ball back into the six-yard box was blocked by Gabriel Tamas.

The hosts broke swiftly from a Baggies corner three minutes later and Gerrard put Milan Jovanovic in a threatening position on the edge of the box.

But the hard-working Chris Brunt got back to snuff out the danger and Jara cleared for a throw-in.

Albion continued to cause problems for Roy Hodgson's men and, in the first minute of stoppage time, Jamie Carragher headed Morrison's lofted ball straight back to the Scotland midfielder who fired a first-time volley just wide of the right-hand post from 25 yards.

Jara slid the ball through to Morrison four minutes into the second half and he again hit a 20-yard shot just past the left-hand upright.

Moments later, Brunt controlled Fortuné's cross from the right and saw his goalbound volley blocked by Carragher.

The impressive Shorey drifted inside from the left in the 56th minute and found Dorrans, who turned and curled a shot a yard wide of the top right-hand corner of the net.

Gerrard's corner from the right on the hour mark caused panic in the Baggies defence as Carson blocked Kuyt's near-post flick on the goalline and Brunt cleared from inside the six-yard box.

Substitute Maxi Rodriguez played the ball back in and Kuyt nodded it down for Martin Skrtel, whose fierce volley flew inches over the bar.

The visitors got themselves in a pickle in the 63rd minute when Olsson almost put the ball into his own net with a loose back-pass and was fortunate to see it go for a corner.

Good work by Fortuné down the left in the 65th minute saw him race to the by-line and cut the ball back to Jara, who was unlucky to see his first shot blocked by Daniel Agger and his follow-up effort held by Reina.

And the Baggies suffered the double misfortune of the Reds' counter-attack ending in Kuyt's pass being clinically volleyed home from the edge of the box by Torres.

Captain Carson kept Di Matteo's men in the game in the 72nd minute as he pulled off a superb point-blank save to deny Torres from Gerrard's left-wing cross.

Somen Tchoyi came on for Graham Dorrans in the 75th minute to make his Albion debut on the right-hand side of midfield as Di Matteo switched to a 4-4-2 formation, with Odemwingie partnering Fortuné in attack.

Kuyt nicked the ball off Olsson in the 84th minute, nudged it to Gerrard and he teed up Torres, whose goalbound strike was blocked by Jara's last-ditch lunge.

Seconds later, substitute Chris Wood chased down what seemed like a lost cause and played the ball back to Tchoyi, who skipped inside and drilled a low shot a shade past the near post and into the side-netting.

To rub salt into Albion's wounds, Morrison was harshly sent-off four minutes from time for a mistimed challenge on Torres.

Despite being down to tern men, Albion continued to put the Reds' goal under pressure but they just could not breach the hosts' well-drilled rearguard.

Still, the Baggies' near-2,000 following departed Anfield in high spirits, having witnessed a thoroughly encouraging display at the Merseyside stronghold.

LIVERPOOL (4-4-1-1): Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger; Kuyt, Poulson, Lucas, Jovanovic (Rodriguez 59); Gerrard, Torres (Babel 89). Subs not used: Jones (gk), Pacheco, Kyrgiakos, Spearing, Kelly.

ALBION (4-1-4-1): Carson; Jara, Tamas, Olsson, Shorey; Mulumbu; Odemwingie, Morrison, Dorrans (Tchoyi 75), Brunt; Fortuné (Wood 82). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Ibanez, Reid, Cox, Barnes.

GOALS: LIVERPOOL - Torres (65).


SENDING-OFF: Morrison (serious foul play 86).

REFEREE: L Probert (South Gloucestershire).



PIC: IN CONTROL...The excellent Jara holds off Torres

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    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.