West Brom shock Liverpool

Liverpool were left stunned at a 2-0 defeat by a Ben
Foster-inspired West Bromwich Albion at Anfield in the Premier
League on Monday after being the victims of a classic smash and
grab.

Brendan Rodgers’s team had scored 12 times in their last three
Premier League home games to renew their ambitious long-term plans
of returning to the top four but they were shell-shocked by Gareth
McAuley and Romelu Lukaku’s late goals.

Chances and possession were wasted and Liverpool’s night had
been summed up with less than 15 minutes remaining when captain
Steven Gerrard saw a spot-kick, which was contentiously won by Luis
Suarez, saved by heroic West Brom keeper Foster.

For West Brom, who before kick-off had kept just one clean sheet
in their last 29 Premier League away games – with that shutout
coming at Anfield in their 1-0 win in April 2012 – it was a first
win in eight in all competitions but attention will focus on
Liverpool’s misery.

In what was a scrappy beginning, Jonjo Shelvey, starting in
place of Liverpool’s injured ?12m striker Daniel Sturridge, had an
early finish correctly disallowed for offside after Foster had
spilled Glen Johnson’s dipping shot.

And, despite not taking the lead, the chalked-off effort at
least gave Liverpool some spark, with the rejuvenated Stewart
Downing proving a menace down the right and Luis Suarez producing a
wonderful, backheeled, flicked cross on the left.

West Brom, who had January transfer deadline day rebel Peter
Odemwingie in their travelling party but not in the matchday squad,
offered little as an attacking threat but they would have been
relatively happy.

However, Baggies boss Steve Clarke, a former Liverpool coach,
would have known his visitors were fortunate not to concede before
half-time as Steven Reid almost netted an own goal when scooping
over the crossbar.

Jordan Henderson took a leaf out of Suarez’s book at the start
of the second half, producing his own backheel in an attempt to
open the scoring from a low Johnson cross from the right in front
of The Kop.

With 35 minutes remaining, West Brom – who humbled Liverpool 3-0
at The Hawthorns on the opening day of the season – were becoming a
little more adventurous and that led to a more open, end-to-end
game.

Rodgers decided to send on Fabio Borini and Raheem Sterling in
place of Shelvey and Henderson but West Brom were continuing to
make life difficult for their hosts, with a Gerrard shot well saved
by Foster.

And, in the 76th minute, Foster was again to deny Gerrard when,
after Suarez had gone down a little softly in claiming a push from
Jonas Olsson, the West Brom goalkeeper dived low to his left to
save the midfielder’s penalty.

It proved an incredibly costly failure from Gerrard as, in the
81st minute, West Brom scored with just their second shot of the
match when McAuley headed home from a corner.

And, in the final seconds before injury time, West Brom added to
Liverpool’s woe with a breakaway which resulted in substitute
Lukaku putting the result beyond doubt and moving his club above
their hosts to eighth in the table.