STEVE Clarke admitted Albion’s sluggish start at Anfield presented Liverpool’s 'SAS' with a platform to show why they are one of the Barclays Premier League’s most feared strike-pairings.
Luis Suarez had previously failed to score against the Baggies but had two goals under his belt at Anfield today after just 25 minutes.
The Uruguayan completed his hat-trick ten minutes after the break and although the Baggies rallied when sub James Morrison pulled one back from the spot, Sturridge added a fourth – his eighth of the season – late on to wrap up the points.
Clarke praised his players for plugging away until the end but said his former club were full value for their emphatic 4-1 win
“The best team won and my immediate concern is watching the DVD of the game on the coach journey back and trying to work out why we started the game so slowly,” said the former Reds first-team coach.
“We didn’t get into the game at all.
“By the time we got a foothold, we were 2-0 down.
“Against a team like Liverpool and the form they’re in, plus the front two they’ve got just now, it was always going to be a difficult task.
“We plugged away.
“Maybe if Nico had got a better touch on the ball a couple of minutes before half-time, or if we had got a penalty decision the players were adamant we should have done, and gone in 2-1 down, it could have been different.
“The third goal was crucial and Liverpool got it from a set-play, which was disappointing.
“But we still stuck at it. The penalty put us back in the game at 3-1 and we had one or two half chances after that.
“The team kept going until the end but the finish from Sturridge put the icing on the cake for Liverpool and killed the game for us.”
Although Clarke was full of praise for Suarez’s second goal and Sturridge’s sublime late chip, he reckoned Liverpool’s other two strikes were preventable.
“We certainly came up against an in-form team,” he added.
“Liverpool are now second and have started the season very, very well.
“But their first goal came from nothing, really. It was a soft goal to concede.
“Their second was an unbelievable header from the edge of the box. I’m not sure Luis could have placed it any better.
“Their fourth goal was also sublime.
“Some days you have to take your hat off and say the opposition were better. Their front two certainly caused us a lot of problems.”
Clarke had to make a change just before half-time when Morgan Amalfitano was unable to continue, paving the way for Morrison to enter the fray.
“Morgan indicated that he had a problem with his knee,” explained the head coach.
“We tried to get him to half-time but he said that it was too bad so we made the change.
“We’ll assess him and see what the problem is.”