Berahino pen not enough for Baggies
ALBION’s three-match winning sequence came to an end at Anfield as they were edged out 2-1 by Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League.
Adam Lallana handed the hosts the lead on the stroke of half-time at the end of an evenly-matched first period, exchanging a one-two with Jordan Henderson before drilling past Ben Foster.
Yet the Baggies levelled shortly after the restart when Saido Berahino was brought down by Dejan Lovren, although television replays suggested the foul occurred outside the penalty area, and he picked himself up to convert his sixth goal of the season from the spot.
It was the Albion Academy graduate’s fifth in the league this term, already equalling his tally from last season.
However, it was not enough to claim a share of the spoils as Henderson converted a 61st-minute winner, ensuring Albion tasted defeat after successive wins over Tottenham, Hull and Burnley.
History was on Albion’s side going into the encounter having won three of their last five meetings with Liverpool, including two of their previous three visits to Anfield.
Cristian Gamboa was handed his full Premier League debut as he replaced Andre Wisdom, who was ineligible under the terms of his season-long loan move from the Reds.
Otherwise, head coach Alan Irvine selected the same starting XI as the one which recorded back-to-back league victories against Tottenham and Burnley.
It was Liverpool, winless in three league games, who started on the front foot, Foster making a superb 14th-minute save to keep out Lallana on the rebound after Raheem Sterling’s deflected effort almost wrong-footed the Baggies goalkeeper.
Foster was at it again just four minutes later, with his one-handed save superbly keeping out Rickie Lambert.
Albion, however, had moments of their own in the opening quarter and certainly grew into the game the more the first period wore on.
Berahino was first to test Simon Mignolet, with his 35th-minute drive parried to safety by the Reds ‘keeper.
By the close of the first half it was an evenly-balanced encounter, Lambert wasting an opening at one end before an unmarked Berahino headed over the crossbar from close range at the other and Stephane Sessegnon also tried his luck.
But it was the hosts who broke the deadlock in the 45th minute, Lallana playing a neat interchange with Henderson before firing past Foster.
However, Albion were level in the 56th minute.
Sessegnon played the ball into Berahino, who turned Lovren on the edge of the penalty area before being brought down by the Reds defender, with Albion’s leading scorer sending Mignolet the wrong way from the spot.
Irvine’s charges, though, were on level terms for just five minutes.
Referee Michael Oliver waved play on when Sebastien Pocognoli upended Sterling in the area, but the ball broke for Henderson to slot home from 12 yards.
Berahino wasted another close-range header in the 75th minute before drilling off target soon after, either side of a couple of Foster saves from Steven Gerrard and substitute Mario Balotelli as Liverpool ran out winners.
Foster, Gamboa, Lescott, Dawson, Pocognoli, Dorrans (Mulumbu 70’), Morrison (Blanco 80’), Gardner, Brunt (Samaras 87’), Sessegnon, Berahino.
Subs: Myhill (gk), McAuley, Yacob, Baird.
GOAL: Berahino (pen 56’)
BOOKED: Dawson (foul 29’), Lescott (foul 84’)
Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo (Johnson 64’), Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno, Gerrard, Henderson, Lallana, Coutinho (Lucas 75’), Sterling, Lambert (Balotelli 64’).
Subs: Jones, Toure, Markovic, Borini.
GOALS: Lallana (45’), Henderson (61’)
BOOKED: Skrtel (foul 17’), Gerrard (foul 27’)
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)
Albion star man: Craig Gardner