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Clarke savours great afternoon

18 August 2012

Boss quick to praise players for dazzling display

STEVE Clarke hailed his players for delivering a devastating display in the first competitive match of his Albion reign as they thrashed Liverpool 3-0.

The Baggies finally broke their Barclays Premier League opening-day hoodoo at the seventh attempt as they kicked-off a season at this level with a victory for the first time.

Zoltan Gera’s early goal of the season contender set the hosts on their way two minutes before half-time.

And Peter Odemwingie fired home a 63rd-minute penalty, just four minutes after Shane Long had missed from the spot, with Daniel Agger sent-off in between.

New signing Romelu Lukaku came off the bench to fire home a 77th-minute third and wrap up the scoring.

“It was a good afternoon,” said Clarke.

“We’ve worked hard to be here.

“I spent all week telling the players to believe in themselves and be confident coming into this game because they had no reason not to be.

“I was asking the players to make sure it was a tough afternoon for Liverpool and that’s what they did.

“I think I’ve been in the game long enough to know you enjoy these moments – but there are different Saturdays to come.

“The performance today showed these players are comfortable in the Premier League.

“They’ve finished mid-table in the last two seasons.

“They know they can handle themselves in the league and I wasn’t worried about the game, I knew it was a good game to start.

“I thought there was more pressure on Liverpool than there was on us and that proved to the case.

“I was really pleased with the way we played.”

The Baggies boss was also delighted his decision to throw fresh legs on in the 68th minute with the Reds down to ten men and the scoreline 2-0 paid off.

Lukaku and Marc-Antoine Fortune replaced Long and Gera respectively and the duo’s impact saw the Baggies put severe pressure on the visitors’ backline.

“The game was open and I thought it was just a good time to make changes,” Clarke added.

“There were spaces on the pitch to be exploited rather than sit and hold on at 2-0 and be a bit nervy about it.

“I thought the best way was to go for the jugular and try and get a third goal, which we managed.

“There are many games to play and I told all of the players before the game today they’ve all got a part to play.

“The ones that weren’t involved today will be disappointed and the ones that were on the bench will be disappointed.

“But if they come on and do that then they are going to make my job difficult, which is what we want.”

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