After last week’s impressive victory against Burnley I was confident Albion could continue their good form against Liverpool – especially after the Reds’ poor European show in midweek.
Alan Irvine made just one change to the side which swept aside the Clarets. Cristian Gamboa came in for the ineligible Andre Wisdom at right back for his first league start for the Baggies.
Despite the Reds’ recent poor form, it was the hosts who started the brightest. Yet Ben Foster was never really troubled early on. His first action of the afternoon came in the 14th minute when Foster had to be aware to poke the ball away from Adam Lallana. But the England international made a more impressive save minutes later. Rickie Lambert sprinted between Albion’s centre backs but Foster stood tall and made a smart save down to his left.
Albion were holding their own – if not creating a lot. Morrison, Dorrans, Brunt and Gardner all worked hard in midfield. But they were unable to find any space for Sessegnon to feed Berahino.
The Baggies first real effort of the game came courtesy of a misplaced pass from Jordan Henderson. Berahino sprinted clear but his long-range effort was pushed aside by Mignolet in the Liverpool goal.
The striker then wasted a better chance. Albion worked the ball nicely down the left, Pocognoli swung in a deep cross to find the unmarked Berahino. But his header went high into the Kop end.
It looked as if the game was to be heading into half time in stalemate. Yet Adam Lallana had other ideas. The forward collected the ball, twisted and turned past James Morrison, exchanged passes with Henderson and then fired past Foster. It was a fine individual goal, but Lallana was given too much time by James Morrison and then Gamboa failed to track the run for the goal.
After the break
Despite the untimely nature of the goal, Albion continued to match Liverpool and were rewarded with a goal in the 56th minute. Sessegnon powered forward from midfield and passed the ball to the on-rushing Berahino. Defender Lovren dived in and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot. Replays showed the foul occurred outside the area, but Berahino didn’t care as he sent Mignolet the wrong way from the spot.
It looked as if Albion would kick on. But minutes later Liverpool were again ahead. Gerrard sprayed the ball wide, Raheem Sterling then went tumbling under Gardner’s challenge. Everybody expected Oliver to point to the spot but he waved play on and Sterling pulled the ball back to Henderson who passed the ball into the far corner. It was another poor goal to give away.
The Baggies again tried to push forward for another equaliser. Berahino again came close with another header. But he misjudged the cross and could only head the ball into the game.
As Albion pushed forward late on, Blanco, Samaras and Mulumbu were all thrown on. Yet Albion were unable to create another clear opportunity and Liverpool were relived to get back to winning ways.
After the Baggies were brushed aside 4-1 at Anfield last season, this was a much better display. Although Albion were never on top at any one time, we were always in the game. Berahino is developing into a real threat in the Premier League. But if he had been more clinical in front of goal yesterday, we’d have won the game. Twice he had free headers in the Liverpool box but neither effort tested Mignolet. However, it would be harsh to blame the striker for the defeat. He was excellent as the lone striker yesterday against the experienced Lovren and Skrtel.
In fact, all of Albion’s players did well. It’s difficult to think of a single player who you could say under performed. The goals were disappointing, however it was a great bit of skill from Lallana. For the second, I think Albion’s players were districted by Liverpool’s pleas for a penalty. It was a case of ball watching when Henderson arrived late to slide the ball home.
Overall, it was a good performance. If there’s a good way to lose, then this was it. On another day, the Baggies could easily have taken a point.
COME ON YOU BAGGIES
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