STEVE Clarke feels Liverpool’s equaliser ‘knocked the stuffing out of his men’ in tonight’s 2-1 Capital One Cup defeat by Liverpool.
The Baggies side containing five changes made a bright start and took a third-minute lead through the recalled Gabriel Tamas.
But Ben Foster’s uncharacteristic mistake from Nuri Sahin’s 17th-minute shot – the first Hawthorns goal he has conceded in seven games – let a young Reds outfit back into the match.
Either side could have won it in the second half but Brendan Rodgers' talented young guns swung the tie in their favour late on and booked their place in fourth-round thanks to Sahin’s second goal of the game on 82.
“We said we’d have a go and we certainly started that way,” said Clarke.
“I think their goal sort of knocked the stuffing out of us a little bit.
“I don’t know why.
“Maybe it was because it was such a soft goal to lose.
“After it became 1-1, they were better, passed it better, and we sat off them too much.
“The second half was much better, we got about them and pressed to make a game of it.
“The second half could have gone either way.”
He added: “If I look at 30 minutes of the first half, yes it is an opportunity missed.
“But if I look at the rest of the game, no it is not an opportunity missed.
“It’s a cup tie and cup ties can go either way.
“You need the breaks and they got the breaks late in the game.
“It didn’t give us a lot of time to respond to it.
“When the goal went in, which I think was suspiciously off-side, we didn’t have enough time to readjust and get back into the game again.
“It was late and decisive.”
And Clarke put Foster’s mistake down to one of those things, safe in the knowledge the Baggies’ No.1 already has three Barclays Premier League clean sheets to his name in five games this term.
“It’s unusual for Ben,” he insisted.
“It’s not even worth having an in-depth discussion about it.
“It’s not like Ben, it doesn’t happen very often and we move on.”