Roy Hodgson falls to former club as a drab Baggies performance allows Kenny Dalglish's side to cruise to a Premier League victory thanks to two first half strikes
First-half goals from Charlie Adam, from the penalty spot, and Andy Carroll handed the Reds a straightforward three points that boosts them to fifth and leaves them just a point behind third-placed Chelsea.
Steven Gerrard missed out for the visitors with an ankle infection, with Jordan Henderson joining Charlie Adam, Lucas Leiva and Stewart Downing in midfield. Luis Suarez was passed as fit to play and partnered Carroll up-front, while Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel were paired at centre-back in the absence of Jamie Carragher.
For the hosts, Somen Tchoyi replaced Shane Long - who will spend six weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury - and supported Peter Odemwingie in attack, with no other changes made to the side that beat Aston Villa last weekend.
Liverpool passed up a big chance to open the scoring with under a minute played. Suarez spotted a huge gap in the West Brom defence and latched on to Jose Enrique’s wonderfully floated diagonal pass only for his control to uncharacteristically let him down, with Ben Foster able to collect the loose ball.
Unfortunately for Foster, Adam was feeling less charitable. After Suarez had been blocked off in the box by Jerome Thomas, the Scottish midfielder coolly slotted home the resulting spot-kick to put the Reds ahead.
Suarez has come under the microscope for his perceived tendency to go to ground easily in and around the edge of the area but there seemed to be clear enough contact here. The West Brom support was less than impressed with the decision, however, as referee Lee Mason had let play continue until his linesman belatedly flagged for the penalty.
The Liverpool faithful felt – and perhaps more justifiably – hard done by themselves minutes later. When Carroll rose for a corner kick from the Liverpool right Jonas Olsson bundled him to the ground to prevent the former Newcastle United man from making any sort of connection.
Carroll was appealing in the box once again at the 20-minute mark. Suarez broke away down the right and teed up a cross that dropped on to the big striker’s head at the back post, only for Steven Reid to make the block with an arm. While there was no doubt where it struck the defender, it would be difficult to claim the handball was intentional.
When Hodgson hurled his jacket to the floor at the half-hour mark it was difficult to tell whether he was more frustrated with his own players or the referee. It really should have been the former, as West Brom were showing desperately little, with Tchoyi and Odemwingie starved of the ball.
Despite their dominance, Liverpool were not carving out too many chances. Suarez did pass up one golden opportunity when Skrtel directed a corner back across the six-yard box only for the Uruguayan to lift a left-footed shot over the crossbar.
The home side finally began to show some signs of life as the half drew to a close. Tchoyi found some space down the right-hand side and curled a low pass across the face of goal that just evaded Odemwingie. Thomas managed to recycle the ball and maintain the Albion pressure only for Chris Brunt to cross wildly into the stands.
If anyone was going to provide a spark for West Brom, it looked like it would be Tchoyi, and his chipped pass allowed Thomas to cut a pass across goal, but Pepe Reina was able to intercept.
Just as they were beginning to have more of a say, disaster struck for West Brom and Liverpool doubled their lead. With Gareth McAuley still forward following a set-piece, Olsson carelessly gave the ball away to Lucas. He released Suarez and Carroll took advantage of the space vacated by the Northern Irish defender, poking the ball past Foster when through on goal.
Humbled Hodgson | Baggies boss could not mastermind a win over his former charges
The second half got off to a lively start. After Carroll’s smart knock-down was scuffed wide by Henderson, Tchoyi wriggled away from Agger at the other end of the pitch before firing just wide.
Suarez’s pace was causing the slightly sluggish looking West Brom defence plenty of problems but the former Ajax striker was struggling to test Foster despite repeatedly working himself into good areas. There seemed to be little doubt, however, that he would hit the back of the net after Carroll’s neat lay-off but Olsson heroically got down to block the low shot.
Hodgson will have been hoping for a response after a lacklustre first half and while West Brom were marginally better, the improvement was nowhere near significant enough to turn the match. After Jose Enrique’s high shot had been palmed over by Foster, Downing fired narrowly wide from the resulting corner with only a speculative Reid effort working Reina.
The Suarez-Carroll tandem has not got off to a blistering start but the way they worked together in this match will have encouraged Kenny Dalglish greatly. Once again they combined, this time Carroll’s powerful shot forcing a good save from Foster after Suarez had knocked the ball into his path.
The only thing the two were lacking was a clinical edge. Suarez’s chipped pass from the left found Carroll behind Olsson on the edge of the box, but he shot wide to the frustration of the unmarked Henderson.
West Brom finished the game with some pressure in and around the Liverpool area but their lack of penetration without the injured Long showed, as Downing’s strike against the post late on was the only chance in the final minutes of an encounter the Reds saw out comfortably.
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