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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
17:53 22nd April 2012

PETER Odemwingie further cemented his name in Albion folklore by firing the club to their first win at Liverpool in 45 years - and up to tenth place.

The Nigeria international converted a brave Baggies rearguard action into a seventh away win of the season by hitting the game's only goal in the 75th minute - his 11th of the term - to grant ex-Reds boss Roy Hodgson a winning return to Anfield.

Albion had to dig deep for long periods on Merseyside, with the Carling Cup winners, who were particularly rampant after the break, twice hitting the woodwork.

But that was of little concern to the 1,600-plus fans camped in the away end as they celebrated the club's first victory at Liverpool since Jeff Astle's winner on exactly the same date in 1967.

The Baggies' third win in four games owed a lot to Jonas Olsson marshalling a superb defensive display, which secured only their second away clean sheet of the season.

Odemwingie's winner also put paid to Albion's sorry Barclays Premier League run at Anfield, having lost their previous five visits without scoring.

Eighth entertained 13th at Anfield, with the two clubs separated by only four points before kick off.

Hodgson rang two changes as Olsson, injured in last Saturday's pre-match warm-up, and Shane Long came in for the benched Craig Dawson and sidelined Marc-Antoine Fortune (hamstring). Paul Scharner recovered from a stomach upset to be named as a sub, where he was joined by Marton Fulop, who had missed the last seven games through illness.

Liverpool were boosted by the return of first-choice keeper Pepe Reina from suspension but were without talismanic skipper Steven Gerrard.

There was an electric atmosphere inside the Merseyside venue as the hosts played their first game since booking their second cup final appearance of the season by defeating local rivals Everton at Wembley last Saturday.

Shortly before kick-off, Hodgson was afforded a warm reception by Liverpool fans as he took to the away dugout for the first time since leaving his post as Reds manager 15 months ago.

Albion made a positive start and enjoyed plenty of possession inside the Liverpool half during the early exchanges.

But it was the hosts who recorded the first shot of the game, with Jay Spearing smashing a 20-yard effort into Olsson's midriff in the sixth minute.

The Baggies responded four minutes later when Long teed up Chris Brunt, whose angled drive clipped Jose Enrique and looped into Reina's arms.

However, seconds later, Albion lost possession just inside their own half and were fortunate not to concede, with Dirk Kuyt placing a great chance wide of Ben Foster's far post from Luis Suarez's pinpoint pass.

Brunt had the taste for a shot at goal and tried his luck again on 14, but his 30-yarder fizzed wide.

The outcome was the same when, two minutes later, Enrique had a go from even further out.

But Liverpool were starting to build up a head of steam and, on 19, Andy Carroll wasn't far away from connecting with Suarez's ball across the face of goal after a clever short-corner routine.

Then, on 21, Carroll looped a far-post header harmlessly wide from Maxi's left-wing centre.

Albion were finding it hard to gain a foothold in the game due to their inability to keep possession - and they had another scare on 23.

Suarez raced onto Carroll's flick-on and jinked inside Olsson before letting fly from just inside the box, only to see his goalbound effort smash into Liam Ridgewell.

A minute later, Foster had to pull off a fine save to push away Suarez's 15-yard snapshot from Glen Johnson's clever pass. Maxi pounced on the rebound but blazed over from the edge of the penalty area.

However, Albion created a glorious chance of their own on 27. Long headed Olsson's lofted pass into Brunt's path and the Northern Ireland international's prod goalwards was brilliantly palmed away at point-blank range by Reina.

Back came Liverpool and, on the half-hour mark, Suarez looped a free ten-yard header from Enrique's angled delivery onto the roof of Foster's net.

Yet Albion went agonisingly close again in the 34th minute.

Graham Dorrans' in-swinging corner fell perfectly for Long whose eight-yard volley cannoned into Reina's chest before flying to safety.

There was a nice ebb and flow to the game now and, at the other end, Spearing saw a fierce 25-yard drive fly inches wide of the left-hand post.

Albion were soon back on the attack and Odemwingie seized Johnson's weak headed clearance and drove a couple of yards wide from 30 yards.

Liverpool got back on top during the closing stages of the half and Olsson did well to get in the way of Maxi's goalbound volley from Jordan Henderson's corner.

Moments later, Daniel Agger controlled Johnson's deep cross at the back post and turned inside Billy Jones before seeing his acute drive turned wide by Foster's right foot.

In stoppage time, Foster had little trouble in spreading himself to clutch Kuyt's 20-yard grass-cutter.

Liverpool asked the early questions after the break and they went mightily close to breaking the deadlock on 50. From Carroll's lay-off, Henderson beat Foster all ends up with a superb 20-yard strike which cannoned down from the crossbar and into the keeper's back before squirming away from the empty net.

Albion were really having to dig in and Suarez went close again on 53 when he cut in from the left-hand touchline and jinked past Jones and Youssouf Mulumbu before firing just over from a tight angle.

At the other end, Long found himself one-on-one with Reina when he bustled his way onto Jerome Thomas' pass, but the Liverpool keeper forced him wide and the chance went.

The Reds' search for a goal was becoming more desperate and Maxi was well off target with an ambitious volley from Carroll's tee-up.

The woodwork came to Albion's rescue again on the hour-mark when Kuyt's angled drive squirmed off the inside of Ridgewell's leg and hit the far post.

Seconds later, Carroll volleyed Kuyt's right-wing centre over from 12 yards.

It was all Liverpool and Johnson, who was enjoying the freedom of Albion's left-flank, clipped over a great cross which the off-balance Carroll headed wide.

On 64, Foster did well to rush off his line and punch clear Spearing's angled pass in the nick of time before Kuyt could connect.

The Albion keeper made a rare mistake when he spilled Maxi's cross-cum-shot, but Olsson was on hand to toe the ball out for a corner before Carroll could pounce

The Baggies goal really did live a charmed life in the 67th minute when Foster, twice, and Brunt produced goal-saving blocks to deny Carroll and Spearing.

The siege continued and Henderson was inches away with an 18-yard drive from Carroll's pass.

But, against all odds, it was the visitors who broke the deadlock on 75. Mulumbu refused to give up a lost cause and, after dispossessing Johnson down the left, Odemwingie took the loose ball in his stride before beating Reina with a cool right-foot finish from just inside the box. It was the first goal Albion have scored at Anfield since 1985.

The Baggies didn't look back after conceding - and grew in stature.

Foster kept out sub Craig Bellamy's 20-yarder before Olsson deflected wide Carroll's goalbound follow-up.

But it was the visitors who looked the team most likely to add to the scoring during the dying stages.

In the 89th minute, sub Keith Andrews fizzed a terrific 20-yard drive just wide of the far post.

Then, in the first minute of stoppage time, Ridgewell floated a free-kick from the left over Reina and into the net. However, the effort was ruled out for a shove by sub Scharner on the Liverpool keeper.

The Reds surged straight upfield but Foster blocked Suarez's acute drive before smothering the loose ball.

Albion counted down the clock with a long spell of keep-ball before sub Simon Cox curled a shot over from the edge of the box.

That proved the final action of the game and referee Neil Swarbrick's final whistle confirmed a historic victory.

LIVERPOOL (4-4-2): Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Kuyt (Bellamy 68), Spearing (Shelvey 83), Henderson, Maxi (Downing 74); Carroll, Suarez. Subs not used: Doni (gk), Coates, Carragher, Kelly.

ALBION (4-4-2): Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Brunt, Mulumbu, Dorrans (Cox 86), Thomas (Andrews 69); Odemwingie (Scharner 83), Long. Subs not used: Fulop (gk), Tchoyi, Dawson, Shorey.

GOALS: ALBION - Odemwingie (75).

BOOKINGS: LIVERPOOL - Agger (unsporting behaviour 76), Shelvey (foul 90+4).

REFEREE: N Swarbrick (Lancashire).

ATTENDANCE: 43,660.

ALBION STARMAN: Jonas Olsson.

    Data provided by Press Association

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