Baggies beaten by Austrian champions in first friendly
21 members of Albion’s touring party got valuable game time under their belts as they were beaten 3-1 by Red Bull Salzburg.
Several hundred Baggies fans travelled into the heart of the Austrian Alps to watch Tony Pulis’ men in action for the first time in 2015/16.
Goals from Marco Djuricin, Jonatan Soriano and Takumi Minamino secured victory for the Champions League qualifiers, but Adil Nabi grabbed a consolation to send the Throstle fanatics home with something to cheer.
In stormy conditions at Athletic Area in Schladming, Soriano had the contest’s first effort but Boaz Myhill was down quickly to his right to save the Spaniard’s 25-yard drive in the ninth minute.
The same Salzburg man then went close again six minutes later when his curling right-footed attempt fizzed narrowly wide of the left upright.
The Austrian champions continued to pile on the pressure in the pouring rain and Valon Berisha was unlucky to see his thunderous long-range shot whistle inches over the crossbar.
Marco Djuricin should have given his side the lead on the half-hour mark from point-blank range, only for Myhill to comfortably stop his tame effort.
But just three minutes later the same man got his revenge, beating Albion's stopper with a powerful drive into the bottom left-hand corner from outside the penalty area to give his team a deserved lead.
And five minutes later it was two – Cristoph Leitgeb delivered an inch-perfect ball through Baggies’ backline into the path of Soriano, who smashed the ball beyond the reach of Myhill from ten yards.
Albion’s first attempt on goal came in the 42nd minute when Callum McManaman cut inside from the left touchline and fired at goal from 25-yards, only for Cican Stankovic to push away the winger’s strike.
Both sides used the opportunity of a pre-season friendly to blood their youngsters after the break, with Salzburg making eleven changes at the start of the second-half.
Stephane Sessegnon was the only Baggies man to remain on the field five minutes later as Tony Pulis made ten substitutions.
The Austrian side continued to control proceedings in difficult weather conditions and added a third in the 65th minute.
Japanese forward Takumi Minamino found himself in enough space on the edge of the area to unleash a ferocious left-footed drive past Jack Rose and into the bottom corner.
However the young Albion players on the pitch refused to let their heads drop and managed to pull one back just two minutes later.
After a scramble inside the penalty area, the ball fell kindly at the feet of Adil Nabi who side-footed it into the back of the net from a tight angle via the help of the near post.
Salzburg had chances to increase their lead in the dying stages, but brilliant defending from youngsters Shaun Donnellan and Jack Fitzwater prevented a fourth goal.
Albion: Myhill (Rose 50); Dawson (Ward 50), Olsson (Donnellan 50), Lescott (Fitzwater 50), McClean (Pocognoli 50); Gardner (Campbell 50), Yacob (A.Nabi 50), Fletcher © (Leko 50), McManaman (Roberts 50); Sessegnon; Anichebe (Ideye 50).
Salzburg (first-half): Stankovic; Schmitz, Miranda, Hinteregger, Ulmer; Nielsen, Leitgeb, Keita, Berisha; Djuricin, Soriano.
(Second-half): Walke; Lainer, Caleta-Car, Raischl, Laimer; Pires, Sorensen, Oberlin, Minamino; Yabo, Brandner.