Anelka, Berahino and Rosenberg earn third successive win
SAIDO Berahino capped a fine all-round display by firing Albion to their third successive pre-season win at Shrewsbury's Greenhous Meadow.
Just four minutes after crashing a spectacular effort against the Atromitis bar, the 19-year-old striker made it 2-1 by scrambling the ball home from six yards.
Steve Clarke’s side had trailed at the break to Athanasios Karagkounis’ 11th-minute opener.
But it took half-time sub Nicolas Anelka just ten minutes to make his mark when he headed home his third Baggies goal in as many friendlies from Billy Jones’ perfect cross.
And Markus Rosenberg’s second strike in three days in the 87th minute made the victory secure.
It was no less than the Baggies deserved after an impressive second-half fightback.
Clarke understandably rang eight changes for Albion’s second friendly in three days, with Shane Long, skipper Chris Brunt and Youssouf Mulumbu the only survivors from the starting XI at Derby.
After a lively opening in sun-drenched Shropshire, Berahino – starting in a three-pronged attacked alongside Long and Rosenberg – went close with a 25-yard snapshot from Brunt’s lay-off.
The Baggies should have been ahead on 11 when Pitu Garcia directed a woeful back-pass straight to the unmarked Long. The Republic of Ireland international looked surprised at the gift and could only fire straight at Luigi Cennamo in the Atromitos goal.
That missed proved costly. In a flash, the Athens-based outfit broke upfield and Karagkounis coolly slipped the ball inside Boaz Myhill’s left-hand post after being put clear.
Academy graduate Berahino looked determined to make the most of his rare first-team start and produced a moment of class on 15. The former England youth international jinked past three defenders on the edge of the box before seeing his low drive brilliantly kept out by Cennamo at his near post.
There was certainly a competitive feel to this ‘friendly’, with local lad Jones putting in several full-bloodied challenges.
But it was Atromitos who threatened next. Eduardo Brito rode a couple of weak Albion tackles before firing straight at Myhill from 25 yards.
After a lull in goalmouth incidents, Rosenberg tried his luck from a 30-yard free-kick but curled the ball a couple of yards over Cennamo’s goal.
On 37, another decent chance fell to Long when he looped a header over the bar from Brunt’s delicious centre, after the skipper had worked a short corner with Mulumbu.
Albion survived a penalty scare on 41 when Myhill appeared to take man and ball as raced off his line to challenge Dimitrios Papadopoulos, after the under-pressure Jones had under-cooked his back-pass.
Clarke rang two changes at the break, with Brunt and Long making way for James Morrison and Anelka.
The substitutions gave the Baggies fresh impetus and both half-time additions were heavily involved in their 55th-minute leveller. After slick build-up play, Morrison slid in Jones down the right and his inch-perfect cross was expertly headed home by Anelka from eight yards.
Albion had taken control of proceedings and were camped in the Atromitos half.
And they went agonisingly close to surging ahead on 71.
Berahino skipped past his marker on the edge of the Atromitos box before curling a sublime effort onto the bar, beating sub keeper Michael Sifakis all ends up. Rosenberg worked the rebound back to Morrison but the Scotland midfielder shot wide from 18 yards.
Albion were now turning the screw and, on 74, Anelka drew a fine save out of Sifakis with a 16-yard shot from Berahino’s back-heel.
The Baggies’ pressure finally told a minute later. After Sifakis had failed to deal with a hanging right-wing cross, Rosenberg dinked the ball back into the danger-zone and Berahino nipped in front of the Atromitos keeper to bundle it home.
The victory was wrapped up three minutes from time when Rosenberg bagged his third goal in four friendlies with a deflected 20-yard shot which looped over the helpless Sifakis.
ALBION (4-3-3): Myhill; Jones, McAuley, Tamas, Popov (Ridgewell 85); Mulumbu (Dorrans 75), Yacob, Brunt (c) (Morrison HT); Rosenberg, Long (Anelka HT), Berahino (Roofe 75). Subs not used: L Daniels (gk), Reid, Olsson, Dawson.
ATROMITOS (4-4-2): Cennamo (Sifakis HT); Nastos (Arago 67), Fitanidis, Lazaridis (Tavlaridis HT), Giannoulis (Papoutsogiannopoulos 67); Karagkounis (Gromitsaris 85), Dimoutsos (Ballas 67), Garcia (Iglesias 42), Umbides (Karamanos HT); Brito (Kallergis 67), Papadopoulos (Fabio HT). Subs: Georgiou, Napoleoni, Barkas.
GOALS: ALBION – Anelka (55), Berahino (75), Rosenberg (87). ATROMITOS – Karagkounis (11).
REFEREE: S Attwell (Warwickshire).
ALBION STARMAN: Saido Berahino.