West Brom manager Roy Hodgson has last laugh with victory over Liverpool on return to Anfield
Liverpool 0 West Bromwich Albion 1
Monday 23 April 2012
One small consequence of John W Henry's recent review of operations at Liverpool was the ditching of the club's weekly magazine in favour of a monthly publication. By contrast, Anfield's American owners must be scratching their heads wondering why Liverpool's players cannot produce weekly results in the league to match their occasional cup heroics this term.
Eight days after beating Everton in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, Liverpool reverted to Premier League type, missing the opportunity to climb back above their neighbours in the table as they succumbed to a first home defeat by West Bromwich since this very day 45 years ago.
Peter Odemwingie scored yesterday's winner, with 15 minutes remaining, and the fact it was his club's first goal in open play against their opponents since 1985 only underlined the scale of this setback for a Liverpool side who could end the season with two cups but a lowest league finish since 1994.
Though he denied taking any special satisfaction, this was undoubtedly a victory to savour for Roy Hodgson, the West Bromwich manager, on his first return to Anfield since his unhappy reign there ended in January 2011. By his own admission, his team rode their luck against a Liverpool side who created countless opportunities – they had 28 goal attempts and were twice denied by the woodwork.
"We had to hang on in there," said Hodgson. "We are grateful to a lot of good blocks and saves from our goalkeeper and when those things didn't work we had a bit of luck on our side. Maybe this result was written in the stars 45 years ago to the day."
A mistake by Glen Johnson gave West Bromwich their goal, the full-back giving the ball away to Youssouf Mulumbu, who slipped in Odemwingie to slot past Pepe Reina.
West Bromwich are now just a point below Liverpool in 10th. It may only be a mischievous statistic but Albion's success leaves Dalglish with a league win ratio this season of 0.35 – the same as Hodgson managed in his six months as Liverpool manager. For Dalglish, this was an all too familiar tale of profligacy from a Liverpool team with only one home league win this calendar year. "It has been like that six or seven times," he lamented. "We made a lot of chances, but just couldn't get a break."
With Steven Gerrard missing because of a hamstring problem, it was last week's semi-final heroes, Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, who carried the early threat, setting the tone by creating an early chance for Dirk Kuyt. Carroll dispossessed Mulumbu and Suarez fed Kuyt but the Dutchman sidefooted wide with just Ben Foster to beat.
Suarez was a constant menace with his jinking runs. Like Daniel Agger, the Uruguayan was foiled at close range by Foster. Another scare for West Bromwich arrived when Maxi Rodriguez tumbled at the feet of Billy Jones in the West Bromwich box but referee Neil Swarbrick rightly ignored the calls for a penalty.
This organised, hard-working Albion side were not purely about containment. In the first period, they twice got forward to test Reina, back from suspension. But attacking the Kop after the restart, Liverpool upped the ante. Jordan Henderson picked up a weak Jonas Olsson clearance and drove it against the crossbar, the ball bouncing down on to Foster and away to safety. Suarez then left two defenders for dead on another of his twisting runs but shot wastefully over. On the hour, Kuyt went closer still with an arrowed drive that beat Foster but not the far post.
Then came Johnson's slip and West Bromwich's improbable strike. Even then Carroll could have rescued a point as Foster fumbled a shot, but Olsson was on hand to block. It was yet another of those afternoons for Liverpool.
Booked: Liverpool - Agger, Shelvey.
Man of the match Olsson
Referee N Swarbrick (Lancashire).
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