Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Baggies leave Liverpool red-faced

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, right, rues his missed penalty against West Brom

West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster included a Steven Gerrard penalty among a string of saves which laid the platform for the Baggies to record a 2-0 win over Liverpool, their first league victory since Boxing Day.

The former England international denied the Liverpool captain twice, once from the spot, Jordan Henderson, Daniel Agger, Stewart Downing and Fabio Borini.

And when Gareth McAuley headed home West Brom's first effort on target in the 81st minute it set up their first league double over the Reds - having won 3-0 on the opening day of the season - since 1966-67, with substitute Romelu Lukaku's 90th-minute striking giving the scoreline an unbalanced look.

The visitors appeared more than comfortable in a disappointing first half which saw only Liverpool getting two shots on target. Jonjo Shelvey was given his first league appearance since Boxing Day, playing in the hole as Luis Suarez was restored to the out-and-out striker role but the pair failed to get in the way Sturridge has.

The 20-year-old did put the ball in the net early on but was well offside, while Agger had a header tipped over by Foster, who also caught Stewart Downing's stinging drive at the second attempt.

The closest Liverpool actually came to scoring in the first half was when Steven Reid's attempted left-footed clearance of Shelvey's low cross cannoned off his standing leg and looped over the crossbar from four yards.

Improvements were made by Brendan Rodgers for the second half as Downing had a shot blocked and Gerrard's follow-up was crowded out before Henderson's cheeky close-range backheel from Glen Johnson's pass was stopped by Foster. More work was required and Raheem Sterling and Borini were sent on for Shelvey and the tiring Henderson.

Borini was denied by a fully-stretched West Brom goalkeeper after lashing Downing's lay-off goalwards, McAuley slid in to block Suarez's shot, and the wrong-footed Foster stuck out a hand to stop Gerrard's drive.

Foster denied Gerrard again moments later from the penalty spot after Suarez tumbled a little easily under Jonas Olsson's challenge, and Liverpool were made to pay when they were hit with the sucker punch nine minutes from time.

Chris Brunt swung over a right-wing corner and McAuley had a free run in the area to power home a header. Liverpool went chasing the game and were exposed even later on when Lukaku, having originally been dropped to the bench, stroked home their second.

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