Unbeaten Liverpool pushing for top four finish

2011-10-31 00:00

BIRMINGHAM — Liverpool boosted their push for a top-four place after first-half goals from Charlie Adam and Andy Carroll secured a 2-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Adam scored a ninth-minute penalty at the Hawthorns before Carroll made certain of the three points in first-half injury time as Baggies manager Roy Hodgson failed to mastermind a repeat of last season’s triumph over his former club.

Following draws against Manchester United and Norwich, it was a first Premier League victory in three games for Kenny Dalglish’s team, who are now seven games unbeaten in all competitions and up to fifth, within a point of third-placed Chelsea.

Steven Gerrard was a notable absentee from Liverpool’s line-up after an ankle infection prompted him to be left out as a precautionary measure. The Reds were also without Jamie Carragher, who was sidelined with a calf injury.

Hodgson selected Somen Tchoyi in place of the injured Shane Long in the only change to the Baggies team that defeated Aston Villa.

The Baggies benefited from a controversial decision by the referee’s assistant in that match last weekend when Chris Herd was red carded, however this time they were on the receiving end of one.

Referee Lee Mason appeared ready to let play continue when Luis Suarez tumbled inside the area under a challenge from Jerome Thomas yet, despite the absence of claims from the Reds forward, his assistant Gary Beswick flagged for a penalty.

Following a lengthy delay as the Baggies angrily continued their protests, Scotland midfielder Adam kept his composure to roll the resulting penalty into the bottom-left corner.

Liverpool soon had another penalty appeal when England striker Carroll went down as he jostled with Jonas Olsson; however, Mason instead awarded a free-kick in the Baggies’ favour.

Thomas attempted to make amends in the 15th minute, but the West Brom winger dragged his low shot well wide of the left post.

The Baggies failed to extend Jose Reina in the entire first half, with a routine save to collect a tame Peter Odemwingie header the only occasion the Spanish goalkeeper was called into action.

Mason waved away yet more Reds penalty claims when Carroll’s header hit Steven Reid’s hand from point-blank range, while Uruguay international Suarez curled a 25-yard free-kick over the crossbar after half an hour.

In-form Suarez was guilty of an uncharacteristic miss six minutes later when he fired wide of the goal from 10 yards after being picked out by Martin Skrtel.

But the former Ajax striker atoned on the stroke of half-time when his threaded pass picked out the unmarked Carroll, who slotted superbly beyond the advancing Ben Foster with the outside of his outstretched left boot.

Hodgson was evidently furious with his team’s defending, removing his coat and throwing it down in frustration.

His half-time team talk clearly had some impact as the Baggies threatened within a minute of the restart when Somen Tchoyi’s vicious low strike crept agonisingly beyond the left post.

However, Suarez looked a menace throughout the second half and he was twice denied, first by a fine smothering save by Foster and then a brave last-ditch block by Olsson.

He then teed up Carroll in the 70th minute for a well-struck low drive by the former Newcastle player which Foster did well to keep out.

The excellent Suarez was replaced to a standing ovation from the visiting Reds fans late on, while Stewart Downing almost made it three when he cut inside and rattled the foot of the right post in the 90th minute.

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