Match report: West Brom 2 -2 Liverpool
An entertaining encounter ended all square at the Hawthorns in the early Premier League kick off yesterday. West Brom fought back from two nil down to scrap a point, which will leave their supporters scratching their heads regarding their impending relegation. For Liverpool, we will be starching our heads collectively at this one, but the result shouldn’t really cause too much concern given the circumstances.
Ahead of a massive week, Klopp rightly rang the changes. In came Gomez, Klavan, Moreno, Milner and Ings in a disjointed starting XI with more than a little nod to the clash with Roma on Tuesday night.
The Reds started well and got the early breakthrough after a close range finish from Danny Ings, following some great skill from Sadio Mane to cut the ball across the face of goal on to Gini Wijnaldum. It was Ing’s first goal since October 2015 and the look on his face and reaction of his team mates showed the collective will for the popular striker.
Most suspected a straight forward afternoon’s work, but Darren Moore’s men didn’t throw in the towel. As the first half wore on, the middle of the park got more combative, with the Baggies challenging for everything and disturbing Liverpool’s rhythm. They should have leveled on thirty-seven minutes after a lovely ball across the box from Rondon was cut back from Maclean towards an impressive Jay Rodriquez who just couldn’t connect for a tap in. Liverpool regained some compose though and almost doubled their advantage at the other end. An ambitious diagonal ball from Henderson to Gomez was misread by Gibbs on the wing and allowed the returning full back to play in Salah on the right, who in turn found Ings, but his shot was smothered at close range by the on rushing Ben Foster.
The Ref – again
Half-time came with the Baggies rightfully content with their work. The second half though saw the unwanted re-emergence of some very poor refereeing decisions which have blighted so many Premier League games this year. Liverpool were denied a clear penalty early in the half, after Ings was intentionally bundled off the ball in a clumsy challenge from Craig Dawson, only the for the ref to signal a coming together. The Baggies were then subsequently lucky to have eleven men remaining on the pitch when Ahmed Hegazi hit down in a snide dig at Danny Ings which neither the referee nor his officials saw conveniently enough. It really is no wonder that no English officials will be present in Russia this summer.
West Brom though, to their credit fought on and continued to pepper long, direct balls to their mobile front two, causing the makeshift back four no end of discomfort. Liverpool finally threw on Firmino and Oxlade-Chamberlain with twenty-five to play and it was those two combing with Mo Salah on seventy minutes which gave Liverpool their second. Bobby flicked one on to Mo who tapped it back to the Brazilian before continuing his run. Ox then found him with a delicious through ball and the Egyptian applied a lovely chipped finish over Ben Foster right in front of the jubilant away end. His thirty-first Premier League goal of the season puts him in some esteemed company and capped off yet another man of the match performance.
Then, the comeback happened. West Brom just wouldn’t die and they finally got back in the game with twelve minutes left on the clock. Jake Livermore tapping in from close range after a corner to the back post wasn’t dealt with. Sounds sadly familiar. Karius appealed for offside but unfortunately Van Dijk was playing the goal scorer on. With just three minutes left, the tiring and shaky Joe Gomez then cheaply gave away possession, leading to a free kick on the edge of the Liverpool box. Rondon fired a header past the advancing ‘keeper, with Lovren’s rash run, breaking the lines and again playing the Venezuelan on side from a set piece.
The final whistle was greeted with an almost resigned cheer from the home supporters. Rondon was on his knees as his side, despite a solid performance and point, were still facing relegation from the Premier League this weekend. It begs the question as to whether or not Tony Pulis would have ground out more points with this style had he not been fired earlier in the season. The Baggies have quality enough in their ranks to be a lot stronger in this league.
For Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp showed his rightful frustration at a dry pitch favouring the home side and two points dropped against an inferior team. Only Leicester City have drawn more games in the top half this season. The goals where cheaply given away and poorly defended from all. Hardly ideal preparation for the Champions League showdown, but it shouldn’t cause too much alarm. Rotation is always a risk and the most important thing after the result was coming through injury free. Our squad is threadbare at the moment thanks to the dreaded I word and if nothing else, this game highlights the need for some fresh recruits in the summer to bolster the squad. Roll on Tuesday night!