West Brom 1 Liverpool 1 - Report and pictures

Sport | Published:

[gallery] West Brom finished their Premier League campaign one point shy of last season's total as they played out a final-day draw with a Liverpool reserve side, reports Matt Wilson at The Hawthorns.

Salomon Rondon's tenth goal of the season gave the Baggies the lead in the 13th minute but the goal was made by the dancing feet of 17-year-old winger Jonathan Leko, who skipped past three red shirts in the build-up.

Jordon Ibe equalised ten minutes later with a devastating 60-yard solo goal, but neither side could find a winner after that.

Although Liverpool's youngsters had the majority of possession, Albion had by far the better chances, and in the second half Rondon hit the post and had a shot cleared off the line.

The draw ends Albion's season with a nine-match winless run that further highlights the need for a busy summer in the transfer window.

There was no place in the squad for either Stephane Sessegnon or James Morrison, both of whom are out of contract this summer, and Saido Berahino didn't feature from the bench.

James McClean recovered from his back twinge, allowing Tony Pulis to name an unchanged side for the second successive game.

Jurgen Klopp made 11 changes to the side that drew with Chelsea in midweek, as he rested all of Liverpool's big hitters ahead of Wednesday's Europa League final.

Before the match, Albion put on a moving tribute to the 96 victims who lost their life in the Hillsborough disaster and Baggies captain Darren Fletcher and Liverpool-born Rickie Lambert took a floral tribute over to the away fans.


It was well received by the Liverpool supporters, and the feeling of mutual respect seemed to rub off on the players, who took things easy for the first 10 minutes.

But then Leko sparked the match into life 13 minutes in when Joe Allen inadvertently passed him the ball in his own half.

The 17-year-old danced pass three red shirts with frighteningly-quick feet before drawing Lucas towards him and laying off Rondon in the box.

The Venezuelan drilled a low shot past Adam Bogdan at the near post to reach double figures on the final day of his first season in England, but the goal was all about Leko and the potential he poses for next season.


Liverpool's young team did not panic though, and kept shifting the ball from side to side.

Christian Benteke went to ground in the box under Gareth McAuley's challenge at a cross, but nobody in red appealed for the penalty and the Northern Irishman was angry with the former Belgian for failing to stay on his feet.

Cameron Brannagan had a tame shot saved easily by Ben Foster before Ibe drew things level in the 23rd minute with a superb solo goal.

Capitalising on a Jonny Evans slip on the half-way line, the 20-year-old surged 50 yards up the pitch at pace before cutting into the box and easing past Jonas Olsson into the space made by Benteke's run which dragged McAuley away.

Ibe's low shot went under Craig Dawson before nestling in the bottom corner of Foster's goal.

Leko's fearless approach has been warmly received by the Albion fans, but there is another side to it that needs to be ironed out over the summer.

Ten minutes before half-time the teenager tried one too many tricks in Liverpool's half when the Baggies were attacking and he lost the ball, allowing the Reds to break in numbers.

Benteke found Sheyi Ojo on the left, but Claudio Yacob timed his tackle perfectly just as the 18-year-old was about to break into the box.

It happened again five minutes later, but this time Brad Smith was the Liverpool player who found himself on the counter attack after Leko had lost possession.

The 22-year-old Australian skipped past Jonas Olsson before going over a leg that wasn't there, and Bobby Madley rightly booked the Liverpool man for diving.

Everything Albion did was coming through Leko though, and the winger fashioned some space for Fletcher just before half-time, but the captain's cross was too far over James McClean, who then picked up a silly booking for an unnecessary late lunge on Jon Flanagan.

Recognising his inability to deal with the pace of Liverpool's youngsters, Pulis brought Olsson off at half-time for James Chester and moved Evans to centre-back.

Rondon nearly scored his 11th goal of the season straight after the restart from a Craig Gardner free-kick.

Stretching his neck muscles just enough to get his newly-shaven head onto the cross, Rondon's glancing header hit the inside of the far post before coming back to him.

However, the Venezuelan was already falling backwards and he skied the rebound well over the bar.

Albion's inability to hit the target has been a problem all season, and James McClean - who has two goals from 42 appearances - epitomised that wastefulness with two right-footed shots.

The first, a volley from the edge of the box, screwed well wide, and the second, a shot from a similar position, flew well over.

But it was Albion who were creating more chances, and Rondon came close again on the hour mark when Craig Dawson fizzed a cross in that the big striker got the faintest of touches on.

Klopp brought on Danny Ings and Jordan Henderson for Allen and Ibe, and Ings had an immediate impact, albeit at the wrong end.

When Gardner's corner fell to Rondon at the back post, next season's number 9 mis-kicked his first shot, but his second attempt was cleared off the line by the Liverpool substitute as the Reds held on during a period of Baggies pressure.

Tyler Roberts was brought on for his debut with just under 20 minutes to go in place of fellow 17-year-old Leko, and the youngster was obviously up for the occasion, because the first thing he did was pick up a yellow card for lunging in on Henderson.

Roberts nearly scored ten minutes from time, trying to turn in Rondon's low shot into a crowded box, but his teammate Dawson got in the way.

Sam Field was brought on for his debut four minutes from time in place of McClean, but neither side fashioned a gilt-edged chance before the Madley blew his whistle on the season.

The players then completed their end-of-season lap of appreciation, and the loudest chants were for Morrison.

This could be the last time supporters see him in an Albion tracksuit.

Liverpool (4-3-3): Bogdan; Flanagan, Skrtel, Lucas (c), Smith; Stewart, Brannagan, Allen (Henderson 64); Ibe (Ings 64), Ojo (Canos 80), Benteke. Unused subs: Mignolet, Ilori, Randall, Chirivella.

Albion (4-4-1-1): Foster; Dawson, Olsson (Chester 45), McAuley, Evans; McClean (Field 87), Yacob, Fletcher (c), Leko (Roberts 73); Gardner; Rondon. Unused subs: Myhill, Lambert, Berahino, Sandro.

Referee: Robert Madley

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.


Top Stories


More from the Express & Star

UK & International News