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Monday, 30 August 2010
LIVERPOOL 1-0 WEST BROMWICH ALBION MATCH REPORT
A win was the only option for Liverpool in this fixture against newly promoted West Brom. After dropping five points out of a possible six this was a must win game for Liverpool with more difficult fixtures on the horizon after the international break. On the back of a very good win in Turkey on Thursday, Liverpool were looking to build some momentum and string some results together and a home game against West Brom seemingly being a home banker for the Reds.
After resting many players in midweek in Turkey Hodgson brought back his big guns for this game. His team selection on Thursday working well by resting many players and also winning the tie. The team was about as strong as he could field, obviously Cole still unavailable. Agger came back into the left back position, Jovanovic came back into the left midfield position after being rested and Gerrard, Skrtel, Johnson and Torres returned to the team.
Liverpool started the match brightly and had one or two good efforts on goal Torres being the main threat and looks like he is getting sharper with every game. His best came from cutting in from the left before hitting a good shot that was well saved from former Liverpool goalkeeper Carson. But as the game wore on West Brom became more confident and started to put a bit of pressure on Liverpool winning some corner kicks and trying to launch some long throws into the box when given the opportunity. Some of Skrtel's defending at these set pieces bordered on swapping shirts, how he got away with so much holding and shirt pulling still amazes me, no doubt Hodgson will be making sure that type of defending doesn't happen again. So after the good start made by Liverpool they had to be content going in with no score at half time.
The second half was much the same as the first half with Liverpool having more of the play but West Brom looking like they could nick one at the other end too. As time was going on you were starting to wonder if Liverpool were going to get the breakthrough. Liverpool withdrew Jovanovic for Maxi to try and make an attacking difference and he did look lively when he came on. But the game turned on the sixty fifth minute and came after a break and chance for the Baggies which ended up safely in the hands of Reina who initiated a smart break up the Liverpool left which culminated with Kuyt playing a delicate chip to Torres at the edge of the West Brom box which he hit on the volley into the ground sending it into the right hand corner of Carson's goal giving him no chance. You could just feel the relief from the players and crowd as this goal went in. Torres almost scored a second minutes later when Gerrard played a brilliant cross into the box which Torres volleyed but Carson made a really good save spreading himself and blocking it.
Torres should have won a penalty when he shot at goal only to see his shot blocked by an arm of Jara. Then Torres was on the end of a reckless challenge from Morrison which brought him a straight red card. But in seeing out the final few minutes with an extra man Liverpool were far from comfortable. West Brom pushed Liverpool back and were unlucky when a shot hit the side netting, but relief at the final whistle, it wasn't pretty but the result was very important.
Not a great game and certainly not a great performance by Liverpool. Against better teams they probably would have lost this match, but then last season they would probably never had made the breakthrough. So great relief all round. Reina had very little to do. Johnson had some good runs forward. Agger was steady, same with Carragher. Skrtel was better than Monday night but he cant keep getting away with holding in the box the way he did here. The game by passed Lucas once again. Poulsen some good passes I think he will be a good player for Liverpool. Jovanovic worked hard and had some good runs before being subbed. Usual workrate from Kuyt but set up the goal and set up a few attacks. Gerrard was quiet but did create a few good opportunities and had one or two efforts on goal. Torres was superb a real handfull getting back to his best and a superb goal. The most important thing was the result and a great three points for Liverpool.
Man of the Match - Torres Superb, really looked sharp and the difference between the teams, caused problems all day long and the goal will really boost his confidence.