Baggies and Reds share spoils
ALBION claimed an important point as they played out a goalless draw with Liverpool at The Hawthorns.
Chances were few and far between amid what was a largely cagey Barclays Premier League encounter but Albion’s 14th clean sheet of the season, bettered only by Chelsea and Southampton, ensured the hosts came away with a deserved share of the spoils.
Reds winger Jordon Ibe came closest when he rattled the crossbar just after the hour mark, with James Morrison seeing his header cleared off the line by Dejan Lovren shortly after – while substitute Callum McManaman was denied by Simon Mignolet late on.
A point apiece was a fair reflection of the club’s penultimate home match of 2014/15 and moves the Baggies on to 37 for the campaign – seven points clear of the drop zone.
The Throstles now head to Old Trafford to face Manchester United next weekend with the 40-point mark within reach.
Albion named an unchanged starting XI from the side who triumphed 2-0 against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park last weekend, with Cristian Gamboa named on the bench in place of on-loan right-back Andre Wisdom, who was ineligible to face his parent club.
Steven Gerrard, meanwhile, was making his 500th Premier League appearance for Liverpool and last at The Hawthorns before his move to LA Galaxy in the summer.
Albion went close early on when Craig Gardner’s scuffed shot flew across the face of goal, Victor Anichebe unable to get a touch and direct the ball goalwards.
Philippe Coutinho sent an effort over the crossbar but the 26,633 present were greeted to a pretty uneventful first period.
Gerrard whistled a free-kick narrowly over from the edge of the penalty area after 27 minutes before Mario Balotelli blitzed a half-volley off target.
The second half carried on in much the same fashion as the first, Gareth McAuley flicking a header wide from Gardner’s inswinging set-piece.
McAuley and Joleon Lescott then combined at the other end to make a vital interception denying Jordan Henderson as the ball pinged around the Baggies penalty area.
Gardner found the side-netting from Chris Brunt’s deep left-wing cross shortly before the hour mark as the encounter stepped up a gear.
Liverpool came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 63rd minute as Ibe exchanged a one-two with Balotelli, surged into the area and rifled an effort off the crossbar.
Albion then came within inches themselves as Martin Skrtel made a hash of clearing McManaman’s right-wing cross, Morrison beat Mignolet with his header but Lovren cleared off the line.
McAuley again made a well-timed interception before Lovren headed over from a corner for the visitors.
McManaman’s mazy run finished with a crucial save from Mignolet late on as Albion rallied, before Lovren then headed over for the Reds as the encounter finished goalless.
Albion: Myhill, Dawson, McAuley, Lescott, Brunt, Gardner, Fletcher, Yacob, Morrison (Baird 81’), Berahino (Ideye 75’), Anichebe (McManaman 64’).
Subs: Rose, Olsson, Gamboa, Sessegnon.
BOOKED: Dawson (foul 61’)
Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Can, Ibe (Lallana 75’), Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling, Coutinho, Balotelli (Borini 75’).
Subs: Jones, Toure, Manquillo, Allen, Markovic.
Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire)
Albion star man: Gareth McAuley