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Albion 3 Liverpool 0 - Match Report

PUBLISHED

16:55 18th August 2012

Gera, Odemwingie and Lukaku on the mark

STEVE Clarke’s competitive Hawthorns reign got off to a dream start as his Albion side demolished his former club Liverpool.

Zoltan Gera’s rocket – his first goal since his return to the club from Fulham last summer - gave the Baggies a deserved half-time lead.

And the Baggies did well to weather an early Reds storm at the start of the second half before two penalties in the space of four minutes swung the game in the hosts’ favour.

The visitors were reduced to ten men in the 59th minute when Daniel Agger brought down Shane Long in the box.

The Ireland international missed the resulting penalty – but Peter Odemwingie spared his blushes on 63 when he hammered home Albion’s second from the spot after Martin Skrtel had fouled Long.

And new loan signing Romelu Lukaku put the icing on the cake in the 77th minute when he headed home just nine minutes after coming on for his Baggies debut.

Claudio Yacob was handed his competitive Albion debut as Clarke named the same starting XI he fielded against Nottingham Forest in the final pre-season game.

The Baggies were also boosted by the presence of James Morrison and Jonas Olsson in the line-up after both shook off injuries picked up on midweek international duty.

The latter was handed the captain’s armband, with Chris Brunt starting on the bench.

Brendan Rodgers’ first Barclays Premier League line-up as Reds boss contained new signings Fabio Borini and Joe Allen.

But it was Albion who threatened first in the third minute when Ridgewell exchanged a neat one-two with Gera on the edge of the box and and drilled a shot just over the bar from 17 yards.

At the other end Martin Kelly raced down the right and Gareth McAuley did well to stop Luis Suarez getting on the end of his cross.

Long  out-muscled Lucas Leiva on the right-hand side of the box in the ninth minute to get on the end of Odemwingie’s ball over the top.

But the Ireland international lofted his effort from a difficult angle well over the bar.

A minute later Suarez pounced on Gera’s loose pass back towards his own goal and jinked past Olsson before seeing Ben Foster beat out his 25-yard drive.

Long then latched onto Morrison’s throughball and was felled by Daniel Agger 20 yards out, just as he was about to pull the trigger in a dangerous position.

Steven Reid’s resulting free-kick clipped off the Merseysider’s wall and over for a corner.

On 16 Glen Johnson fed the tricky Suarez and he beat McAuley and Morrison in the box – but his effort lacked the power to beat Foster.

A minute later Johnson looked to have carried the ball over the by-line but referee Phil Dowd waved play on and Borini chipped a shot just wide of the far post, with the Baggies players protesting at not being awarded a goal-kick.

Suarez was in the action again in the 26th minute as he was allowed to burst into the box – but the Uruguay international sliced his left-foot shot well wide of the near post from 12 yards.

A Reid free-kick to the back post was controlled by Long on 28 and he delivered a left-wing cross that Olsson headed over from eight yards.

The visitors should have broken the deadlock on the half-hour mark – but Suarez headed over Johnson’s cut-back, with the goal at his mercy inside the six-yard box.

Seven minutes from half-time Suarez beat Ridgewell and flashed a ball into the six-yard box.

McAuley could only half-clear and Johnson ran in – but blazed his strike high over the bar from 18 yards.

Steven Gerrard’s free-kick was deflected on 40 and Lucas was unable to get enough on the ball to trouble Foster as he nudged the ball goalwards.

The Hawthorns erupted two minutes before the break when Martin Skrtel cleared Morrison’s right-wing corner, only to see Gera calmly chest the ball down and rocket an unstoppable 25-yard volley into the top left corner of the net.

Liverpool came out with a purpose in the second half and Ridgewell needed to be alert to block Stewart Downing’s effort as he let fly on the edge of the box.

Morrison slotted Long in on goal in the 59th minute and he was bundled over as he was about to pull the trigger.

The Danish international was red-carded, with Jamie Carragher coming on for Downing as the visitors were reduced to ten men.

Long stepped up on the hour-mark to take the spot-kick himself but Pepe Reina did not fall for his dummy and easily saved.

But three minutes later the Baggies were awarded another penalty when Skrtel clattered Long in the area.

And Odemwingie this time took control and blazed home from the spot with deadly accuracy.

Lukaku was handed his Albion debut on 68 as he replaced Long, and Gera was given a standing ovation as he came off for Marc-Antoine Fortune.

Lukaku made an immediate impact as he left Carragher for dead on the right in the 73rd minute and squared to leave Morrison one-on-one from ten yards – but the former Middlesbrough man fired over.

Albion were in dreamland four minutes later when Ridgewell recovered Morrison’s corner and stood it up to the back post for Lukaku to head home.

The on-loan Chelsea striker went close again with a shot just past the near post on 80.

Moments later the Reds should have pulled one back – but Suarez headed Fabio Borini’s cross inches wide.

The Baggies continued to attack and Fortune and Mulumbu twice went close to adding to the hosts' goal tally in the final ten minutes.

ALBION (4-2-1-3): Foster; Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Yacob; Morrison (Brunt 81); Gera (Fortune 68), Long (Lukaku 68), Odemwingie. Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Jara-Reyes, Dawson, El Ghanassy.

LIVERPOOL (4-2-1-3): Reina; Kelly, Agger (Carragher 60), Skrtel, Johnson; Allen, Lucas (Cole 68, Carroll 78); Gerrard; Downing, Borini, Suarez. Subs not used: Jones (gk), Adam, Henderson, Shelvey.

GOALS: ALBION – Gera (43), Odemwingie (pen 63), Lukaku (77).

SENDING-OFF: Agger (denying goalscoring opportunity 59).
 
BOOKINGS: ALBION – Fortune (foul 75). LIVERPOOL – Johnson (foul 42), Lucas (56), Carroll (unsporting behaviour 90+3).

REFEREE: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

ATTENDANCE: 26,039.

ALBION STARMAN: James Morrison.

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