Ex-Evertonian Anichebe's leveller earns Baggies precious point
SUPER-SUB Victor Anichebe’s second Albion goal saw Pepe Mel’s men come from behind to earn a precious point against the in-form Reds.
It was a sweet moment for the former Everton man, who stepped off the bench on 64 and took just three minutes to cancel out Daniel Sturridge’s 24th-minute opener.
It was a fully deserved draw for the hosts against a Liverpool team who arrived at The Hawthorns on the back of a midweek 4-0 thumping of the Toffees.
And it was a fair result, with both goalkeepers regularly called upon in the second half.
Simon Mignolet made crucial saves from Gareth McAuley and Chris Brunt while Foster thwarted Luis Suarez and Sturridge in front of England manager Roy Hodgson, who was watching from the stands.
Mel made five changes - two enforced. Billy Jones, McAuley, Zoltan Gera, Saido Berahino and Matej Vydra were all drafted in, while Brendan Rodgers named an unchanged Reds line-up.
The Baggies started positively and when Jonas Olsson headed Brunt’s 17th-minute corner back across the 18-yard box, Gera teed up Youssouf Mulumbu, whose 20-yard goalbound volley was just blocked by Steven Gerrard.
Liverpool had shown little – but it was the Merseysiders who took the lead on 24. Suarez showed good footwork on the right-hand side of the box and chipped the ball to the back post for Sturridge to tap into an empty net.
Three minutes later Suarez, whipped a 25-yard free-kick wide of Foster’s right-hand post.
Berahino gifted the visitors the ball in the 33rd minute and Raheem Sterling ran at the Baggies’ defence before seeing his low 20-yard strike deflect wide off McAuley.
From the resultant Gerrard flag-kick, Aly Cissokho could not get control of the ball in the six-yard box and Foster was able to pounce.
The Reds launched a counter-attack on 39 but Albion did not look in danger until Cissokho managed to squeeze past McAuley on the left-hand touchline.
The France international raced towards the box but Olsson was on hand to prevent his cross reaching Suarez.
Moments later, Olsson was forced off through injury and was replaced by Diego Lugano.
Two minutes before the break, Berahino found Gera 20 yards out and he let fly with a shot that sailed just wide of the left-hand post.
Albion regrouped during the interval and produced some tremendous play down the right on 52, with Gera finding Mulumbu in space. The DR Congo international delivered a back-post cross that Brunt fired goalwards – but Jon Flanagan blocked.
From the resultant flag-kick from the left, McAuley towered above Martin Skrtel to meet Brunt’s back-post delivery six yards out, only to see Mignolet pull off a world-class one-handed save.
Foster kept his side in the game on 59. A long punt upfield bounced favourably for Suarez as Lugano challenged him and the Barclays Premier League’s top scorer tricked his way past McAuley before seeing the England goalkeeper stick out a left leg to deny him a goal.
Mel made a change in the 64th minute as Berahino made way for Anichebe.
The former Everton man made an instant impact as Kolo Toure fouled him on the edge of the box. From the resultant free-kick, Mignolet flung himself low to his right to keep out Brunt’s fierce strike.
But the hosts’ frustrations came to an end in the 67th minute when Toure inexplicably played a sloppy ball across the face of his own box. Anichebe pounced before driving his 20-yard shot past the despairing dive of Mignolet and into the bottom left-hand corner of the net to level.
Mel made his final change on 76 as Vydra made way for Graham Dorrans.
Skrtel pulled the ball back from Gerrard’s free-kick two minutes later and substitute Joe Allen drilled in a low shot that Foster did well to hold.
Seconds later, the tigerish Claudio Yacob gave the ball away to Sterling and he played in Sturridge, whose effort was stopped by Foster at his feet. Brunt then blocked Sterling’s shot from the rebound.
Albion's defence was called upon one more time as Lugano threw his body in the way of Skrtel's drive just inside the 18-yard box.
ALBION (4-2-1-3): Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson (Lugano 41), Ridgewell; Yacob, Mulumbu; Gera; Berahino (Anichebe 64), Vydra (Dorrans 76), Brunt (c). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Reid, Sinclair, Amalfitano.
LIVERPOOL (4-1-3-2): Mignolet; Flanagan (Kelly 74), Skrtel, Toure, Cissokho; Gerrard (c); Sterling, Henderson, Coutinho (Allen 74); Suarez, Sturridge. Subs not used: Brad Jones (gk), Kelly, Ibes, Alberto, Aspas, Moses.
GOALS: ALBION – Anichebe (67). LIVERPOOL – Sturridge (24).
BOOKINGS: ALBION – Yacob (persistent fouling 15), Ridgewell (foul 63), Mulumbu (foul 82), Lugano (foul 86). LIVERPOOL – Suarez (foul 74), Gerrard (foul 81).
REFEREE: K Friend (Leicestershire).
ALBION STARMAN: Youssouf Mulumbu.