BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom (AFP)
Brendan Rodgers endured a disastrous first Premier League game as
Liverpool manager as his 10 men succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at West
Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
In what was a dream start to life at the Hawthorns for their new
head coach Steve Clarke, the Baggies eased to victory courtesy of
a Peter Odemwingie penalty sandwiched between goals from Zoltan
Gera and Romelu Lukaku.
While Gera's strike was an early contender for goal of the
season, Odemwingie's spot kick arrived just three minutes after
one had been missed by Shane Long - the foul on the Irishman
earning Liverpool defender Daniel Agger a red card.
Substitute Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, added gloss with a goal
on his debut as Clarke, assistant to Kenny Dalglish at Anfield
last season, gained revenge for his close-season sacking.
It was a humbling start for former Swansea boss Rodgers, who had
handed Joe Allen his Reds debut, as the Northern Irishman
discovered the full extent of the task awaiting him at Liverpool.
A fairly even first half had seen Luis Suarez twice denied well
by Ben Foster in the Baggies goal, while Long threatened with an
audacious lob over the bar after outmuscling Lucas.
Uruguay internation Suarez was guilty of missing a gilt-edged
chance on the half-hour mark, though, when he rose unmarked only
to head Glen Johnson's left-wing centre over the crossbar from
Worse was to follow for the Reds when Albion took the lead in
stunning fashion just before the interval.
Martin Skrtel could only clear James Morrison's corner from the
right into the path of Gera, on the edge of the area, and he
demonstrated sublime technique to smash an unstoppable
half-volley beyond Jose Reina.
It was a first Premier League goal in 20 months for the Hungary
international in what was his first competitive outing since
suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury last November.
Suarez curled a free-kick shortly after half-time and the
visitors' day soon took another turn for the worse.
A threaded pass from James Morrison sent Long through and the
Ireland international tumbled inside the area following contact
from Agger and Dowd responded by pointing to the penalty spot and
sending Agger off.
Long's tame 60th-minute spot kick was comfortably saved by Reina,
but the Baggies were handed a reprieve just three minutes later
when Skrtel clumsily caught the former Reading player inside the
This time, the home side made no mistake as Odemwingie, having
wrestled the ball from James Morrison, stepped up and lashed a
shot inside the left corner.
Despite his penalty miss, Long was soon replaced to a standing
ovation by the Hawthorns crowd with Lukaku brought on for his
Rodgers responded by introducing Joe Cole for Lucas, yet it was
Clarke's side who continued to dominate.
They should have had a third when Lukaku squared to Morrison to
leave him with just Reina to beat, however he blazed over the
The third goal soon arrived, though, when Lukaku rose
unchallenged at the back post in the 78th minute to head in a
Liam Ridgewell cross.
Andy Carroll was introduced immediately, but it was too little
too late for the visitors on what proved to be a miserable day
for the Reds and Rodgers.