A superb strike from Zoltan Gera, Peter Odemwingie’s penalty and a header from on-loan forward Romelu Lukaku made it a much happier day at the Hawthorns for West Brom manager Steve Clarke, who was an assistant last season at Liverpool under Rodgers’ predecessor, Kenny Dalglish.
Liverpool also had defender Daniel Agger sent off early in the second half for a professional foul inside the box, but Shane Long’s ensuing penalty was saved by goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Rodgers felt the difference between the teams wasn’t as vast as the result indicated, with Liverpool forward Luis Suarez missing several quality scoring chances in the first half.
”I thought the score line was harsh, I’ve got to be honest,” Rodgers said. ”Up until they scored the first goal, it looked as though we were the team who were going to get it.
”I’m not one to go on about referees, but in the second half I thought the two (penalty) decisions – three if you include the sending off – were very, very harsh. Obviously then with 10 men and chasing the game, it becomes difficult.”
Clarke was delighted with his team’s performance.
”It was a good start,” Clarke said. ”There was maybe a little more spotlight on myself because it was Liverpool we were playing, but the players showed that they were ready for this game.
”I know the media wanted to make a big thing that I know the players at Liverpool. But I spent most of the week talking to my players about what they could to Liverpool, not what Liverpool could do.”
The Reds were reduced to 10 men after 58 minutes when Agger pulled back Long just inside the box only for the Republic of Ireland striker’s weak spot kick to be saved by Pepe Reina.
But referee Phil Dowd awarded another penalty when he adjudged that Skrtel had tripped Long although this seemed a harsh decision.
This time Odemwingie took the spot-kick and hammered the ball past past Reina. Suarez missed a golden chance to reduce the arrears when he shot over from six yards after Foster had dropped a Steven Gerrard corner.
But Albion were now carving chances at will and Morrison shot wide with the goal at his mercy before substitute Lukaku put the icing on the cake for Albion after 77 minutes.