By Matt B
Monday 30 Aug 2010 11:07:00
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A fantastic volley from Fernando Torres settled a tight Premiership encounter yesterday and saw the Reds first league win of the campaign.

The Spanish striker really should have doubled his tally and a penalty claim was waved away though the Reds often looked laboured during the 90 minutes.  

It is to be hoped expected additions to the Anfield squad list - recently made, soon to come in the shape of Paul Konchesky and those Roy Hodgson still hopes to land in the final 36 hours or so of the transfer window - will lift performances.

Dirk Kuyt celebrates Torres' match winning strike

Ola Toivonen will not be one of those extended the same kind of welcome Raul Meireles received just before kick-off according to the manager. Though there is at least recognition that a striker is his side’s most pressing need.  

This game certainly provided compelling evidence. It also suggested someone with a more subtle creative approach should be on the wanted list.

Joe Cole who will serve the final game of his ban in mid-September should provide that. Though frankly so should many of those on duty against a side expected to battle the drop.

As expected Torres and Steven Gerrard started with David Ngog left out of the side beaten by Manchester City last Monday.

The French youth international‘s omission allowing the skipper to act as support for Torres. Christian Poulsen came in as the only change from that starting line-up.

West Brom included recent signing from Celtic striker Marc Antoine-Fortune in their starting XI. Nickey Shorey was the only additional change. Injury hit duo Marek Cech and Jerome Thomas were left out.

Content to hold a nervy often aimless looking home side at bay rather than seek out an opening after an early flurry on their goal the Baggies seemed likely to gain a foothold midway through the opening period.

Play moved towards the Liverpool penalty area for virtually the first time though Pepe Reina was untroubled by any of the efforts aimed at his goal. He may have been strained had a penalty been conceded - West Brom certainly asked questions when Martin Skrtel pulled at Jonas Olsson.

The visitors were playing the better football and enjoyed efforts on goal but as the half came to a conclusion Liverpool finally strung a succession of passes together and gave Scott Carson something to think about.

Dirk Kuyt had an effort turned round the posts and Gerrard strove to drive through midfield. He almost sent Milan Jovanovic through after taking possession from the Serbian who peeled left. However, Jovanovic’s decision to drift a little wider still allowed Olsson to track him.

Gonzalo Jara possibly should have scored but Reina made a save and had to be alert in denying Graeme Dorrans.

In reply Kuyt’s cushioned header just past the hour played gave Skrtel the chance to take aim but the defender's rising shot fell just inches wide of the left hand upright.

Fortunately for an increasingly edgy Anfield there wasn’t long to wait before a nerve settling opener. A neat volleyed applied to Kuyt’s cross leaving Scott Carson helpless.

The stopper did better with a similar Torres effort soon after. This time Gerrard was the provider sending a teasing centre to the back post which Torres read perfectly. A dabbed finish was only thwarted by Carson spreading his body.   

Jara could have literally handed the Reds a second when Torres's attempted drive struck his arm.

Soon after West Brom were reduced to ten men when James Morrison made a tackle that looked more about reaching Torres than the ball. Given that Joe Cole received similar sanction for a challenge which didn’t look as bad there could be few complaints.

Liverpool claimed three points for the first time this season and with it a 2000th in league football.

They will need to ensure better showings than this over the course of a season and make bold strides towards the next millennium to meet the targets and standards set.  

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher, Agger, Kuyt, Poulsen, Lucas, Jovanovich (Maxi), Gerrard, Torres (Babel) Unused Substitutes: Jones, Pacheco, Kyrgiakos, Spearing, Kelly 

West Bromwich Albion: Carson, Olsson, Tamas, Jara, Shorey, Morrison, Mulumbu, Dorrans (Tchoyi), Brunt, Odemwingie, Fortune (Wood) Unused Substitutes: Myhill, Pablo, Barnes, Reid, Cox



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