Baggies come out on top in six-goal thriller
THE Roofe was on fire at The Hawthorns this afternoon as Albion secured a 4-2 victory over Liverpool in the Barclays U21 Premier League.
Kemar Roofe fired a brace, with Matej Vydra and George Thorne also on the scoresheet, as David Oldfield’s side came from a goal behind to claim all three points.
With the Baggies’ last two games finishing 4-3 and Liverpool beating Spurs 5-0 in their previous outing, visitors to the Hawthorns could be forgiven for expecting another goal-fest.
Zoltan Gera had the first shot on target in the fourth minute - but was unable to direct a tame left-foot strike to the right of Dan Ward in the Reds goal.
Joao Teixeira gave the visitors a tenth-minute lead when his right-foot shot was spilled by Luke Daniels.
But the Baggies were level within four minutes.
Matej Vydra showed express pace to get on the end of George Thorne’s throughball before rounding Ward and slotting home.
The 21-year-old came close to making it two moments later – but saw his powerful right-foot effort crash against the upright from Gera’s defence-splitting pass.
Thorne gave Albion the lead on 19 when his right-foot strike flew into the net from 20 yards.
Roofe added his name to the scoresheet six minutes later as a rampant Albion side continued to pile pressure on the visitors.
Vydra was again involved as his goalbound shot deflected off Lloyd Jones and into the path of Roofe who curled the ball inside the right-hand post from 12 yards.
The Reds pulled one back six minutes before the interval when Rafael Paez got the final touch on Adam Morgan’s free-kick.
Graham Dorrans nearly restored Albion’s two-goal advantage moments later – but his deflected left-foot effort was gathered by Ward.
Luke Daniels was called into action again on the stroke of half-time and did well to gather Jordan Ibe’s right-foot shot from the edge of the area.
The second half began with the same relentless counter-attacking football with which the first ended.
Albion continued to press and came close to extending their lead when Alex Jones’ strike whistled past the left-hand post from the edge of the area.
But, not to be outdone by the hosts, Liverpool were soon on the break and Luke Daniels had to be at his best to parry Lloyd Jones’ bullet header from Brannagan’s corner.
Daniels was on hand again three minutes later to turn Morgan’s 25-yard free-kick over the bar.
Roofe caused confusion in the Liverpool ranks just after the hour mark when his free-kick evaded Ward and was nearly turned into his own net by Jones – with Cameron Gayle waiting.
Luke Daniels provided another important save four minutes later.
The 25-year-old stopper got down low to block Brannagan from Ibe’s cross.
Alex Jones should have netted Albion’s fourth on 75 – but drove his left-foot shot straight into the arms of Ward from Dorrans’ cross.
The visitors could have equalised seconds later but Brannagan, who was a constant threat throughout the encounter, sent a header wide of the right-hand post from Ryan McLaughlin’s lofted ball in.
The Hawthorns breathed a sigh of relief as the Baggies restored their two-goal advantage five minutes from time.
Vydra was brought down by Paez inside the area and Roofe remained calm to cap an already-excellent performance with a second goal.
ALBION (4-2-3-1): L Daniels; Gayle, D Daniels (Francis 90+1), Atkinson, Garmston; Thorne (c) (A Jones 45), Dorrans; Ferrier, Gera (O’Sullivan 30), Roofe; Vydra. Subs not used: Rose (gk); Birch.
LIVERPOOL (4-4-2): Ward; McLaughlin, Paez, L Jones, Smith; Morgan, Teixeira, Roddan (c) (Sama 83), Ibe; Brannagan, Ngoo (Yesil 74). Subs not used: Mersin, Petterson, Lussey.
REFEREE: Rob Ellis (West Midlands)
GOALS: ALBION – Vydra (14), Thorne (19), Roofe (24 & 85 pen) LIVERPOOL – Teixeira (10), Paez (39)
BOOKINGS: ALBION - None. LIVERPOOL - Smith (61), Jones (78)
ALBION STARMAN: Kemar Roofe