Rosenberg and Anelka on mark against Serie A side
TWO first-half goals inside three minutes from strike duo Markus Rosenberg and Nicolas Anelka saw Albion wrap up their pre-season programme in confident fashion.
The Baggies were rarely troubled by the side which finished 13th in Serie A last term and deservedly took the lead in the 32nd minute when Anelka set up Rosenberg’s fourth goal of the summer.
Anelka has been nothing short of prolific since arriving on a free transfer in July and he capped another impressive performance by slotting home his seventh goal in as many games in the 35th minute.
Albion’s fifth win in seven pre-season matches will count for very little when their Barclays Premier League campaign gets underway against Southampton next Saturday – but their preparations have certainly gone to plan.
Anelka was granted his Hawthorns debut as Steve Clarke named a 19-man squad for this afternoon’s final friendly.
The Baggies’ other summer recruit, Diego Lugano, was named on the bench for the first time – but skipper Chris Brunt and Steven Reid missed out.
Goalscoring chances were few and far between during the opening exchanges but there was plenty for the home fans to get enthused about, with Albion playing some silky stuff.
And the game’s first real opportunity fell to the hosts on 16. Gareth McAuley headed the lively Graham Dorrans’ hanging free-kick back across the box and Claudio Yacob miscued a presentable opening wide from 16 yards.
Anelka tried his luck from 25 yards two minutes later but was well off target.
With only the East and West stands open, Bologna were cheered on by a small-but-vocal band of supporters camped in Millennium Corner
Albion were on the attack again on 25 when a smart move started by Yacob resulted in Billy Jones cutting the ball back from the byline. Rosenberg, under pressure from Mikael Antonsson, was unable to get enough power behind his goalbound prod and the visitors cleared.
Bologna’s first notable effort at goal came on 28 when skipper Alesssandro Diamanti fired high and wide from a 30-yard free-kick.
But Albion were deservedly ahead on 32.
Anelka raced onto Jones’ slide-rule pass down the right and the Frenchman picked out Rosenberg in the middle, who timed his run to perfection to tap home past Gianluca Curci.
It was 2-0 just three minutes later. James Morrison ran onto Dorrans’ exquisite through-ball, only to shank his left-footed shot inside the box. However, the Scotland international reacted well to force the loose ball to Anelka who skipped around Curci before tapping into the empty net.
The rest of a half that Albion had controlled passed by with little to report.
The second 45 started in similar fashion to the first, with plenty of nice football on show but very little goalmouth action. Typical pre-season fare!
Bologna did not threaten again until the 59th minute when Rolando Bianchi headed onto the roof of Ben Foster’s net from Panagiotis Kone’s right-wing centre.
A minute later, Lugano was granted his Albion debut as Clarke rang three changes. Craig Dawson and Shane Long also came on, with Jonas Olsson, McAuley and Morrison making way.
Bologna broke with purpose on 70 and sub Davide Moscardelli whistled a 25-yard shot two yards wide of Foster’s left-hand post.
Sub Long put the ball in the net on 76 from Anelka’s inch-perfect pass but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Foster did not have a save to make until seven minutes from time – but it was a good one. The England keeper flung himself to his left to push away sub Franscesco Della Rocca’s fierce 15-yard volley.
ALBION (4-4-2): Foster; Jones, McAuley (Dawson 60), Olsson (c) (Lugano 60), Ridgewell; Morrison (Long 60), Mulumbu, Yacob, Dorrans; Anelka, Rosenberg (Berahino 77). Subs not used: L Daniels (gk), Popov, Tamas, Roofe.
BOLOGNA (4-4-2): Curci (Stojanovic HT); Garics (Crespo 66), Antonsson, Natali (Radakovic 79), Morleo; Kone (Yaisien 87), Krhin (Pazienza 66), Taider (Rocca HT), Christodoulopoulos (Moscardelli 66, Alibec 83); Diamanti (c), Bianchi (Acquafresca 83). Subs not used: Casarini, Abero, Agliardi, Riverola, Gimenez.
GOALS: ALBION – Rosenberg (32), Anelka (35).
REFEREE: A Taylor (Greater Manchester).
ALBION STARMAN: Youssouf Mulumbu.