ANFIELD ONLINE MATCH REPORT
WEST BROM 0-2 LIVERPOOL
FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
Saturday 1st April @ 17:15 at The Hawthorns
West Brom slumped to a sixth defeat in seven games, surrendering meekly to a Liverpool side who won with first-half goals from Robbie Fowler and Djibril Cisse.
Baggies boss Bryan Robson famously saw his team avoid relegation on the final day of last season - and there is no guarantee he will not have to go through the same experience again as his team languish fourth from bottom in apparent freefall.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect for Robson was that his strugglers failed to rise to the challenge laid down by the performances earlier in the day of fellow relegation candidates Birmingham and Portsmouth.
It was time for Albion to stand up and be counted, to prove they are again up for the fight - and to throw out of the window all the statistics that suggested another Reds win at The Hawthorns.
Instead, Liverpool maintained their unblemished Premiership record on Albion's home soil with consummate ease - making it six wins out of six without conceding a goal - all without suspended captain Steven Gerrard.
In many respects, the result was never in doubt once Liverpool had taken the lead just after six minutes - albeit with a suggestion of offside.
Xabi Alonso found Cisse, operating on the right wing, with a ball from midfield that left-back Paul Robinson failed to cut out as he slipped at a crucial moment.
That allowed Cisse an unchallenged run into the penalty area where the France international teed up Fowler with a forward pass to the far post, where the Reds forward side-footed home from six yards.
It was Fowler's second Liverpool goal since his return to the Anfield club from Manchester City, and an easy one at that.
After losing their previous two league games at The Hawthorns by 5-0 and 6-0 scorelines, it was the worst possible start for Albion.
There was brief resistance, but they lacked the initiative to scythe open Liverpool and were themselves again easily cut apart seven minutes before the interval.
Goalkeeper Jose Reina rolled the ball out to architect Alonso, who delivered a raking 70-yard pass straight down the middle.
Cisse's run on to the ball split centre-backs Curtis Davies and Steve Watson. After one touch, he rounded advancing goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak before stroking home his 15th goal for the Reds this season - and his third in successive games.
It could have been much worse for Albion on the stroke of half-time when a Cisse cross from the right to the far post bounced off Peter Crouch's knee and just wide.
But it was effectively job done for Liverpool, who coasted through the second half - despite the positive impact made by Albion's half-time substitute Zoltan Gera.
The Baggies needed a spark, and it came from the Hungarian in his second game back following a lengthy lay-off with a pelvic injury.
The midfielder brought the crowd to life with a dipping 19-yard drive which shaved Reina's right-hand post two minutes after the restart.
He followed that up with two powerful volleys which, unfortunately for Albion, were both driven at Reina.
There were appeals for penalties against stand-in Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher and Mohammed Sissoko, but referee Uriah Rennie was correct to judge both were ball to hand.
They sandwiched a drive over the bar from 14 yards from Jonathan Greening, but this was one of those days when there was to be no reprieve.
Instead, Liverpool should have added a third - but substitute Fernando Morientes side-footed wide from three yards on the end of a near-post ball from Harry Kewell.
It mattered little, leaving Albion hovering precariously above the bottom three only on goal difference from buoyant Portsmouth.
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|Match Report filed: 2 April 2006|