Tag Archives: impact

David Beckham: I will decide my Paris Saint-Germain future in the summer

Beckham: I will decide my Paris Saint-Germain future in the summer

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

21:06 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

01:07 GMT, 4 April 2013

David Beckham has not ruled out staying for another season at Paris Saint-Germain and has had talks with the club’s owners.

The former England captain made a return to the Champions League on Tuesday, playing the first 70 minutes of PSG’s 2-2 draw with Barcelona at the Parc des Princes.

Now the 37-year-old is being asked if he will extend the short-term deal he signed at Christmas. ‘We’ll see. I’ve spoken to the owners and I’ve spoken to the manager, I know how happy they are with me, and they know how happy I am here,’ Beckham said.

Staying put: David Beckham could be set to extend his stay in Paris

Staying put: David Beckham could be set to extend his stay in Paris

‘But I’m not getting any younger, so I’ll enjoy the rest of the season and then we’ll talk.’

Beckham’s performance in Paris certainly didn’t seem that of a man in any rush to retire and was mostly well received across Europe.

Fellow midfielder Blaise Matuidi is suspended for next week’s return leg in the Nou Camp, giving Beckham a decent chance of featuring on the ground where he won the Champions League with Manchester United in 1999.

‘If I start, then great,’ he added. ‘If I don’t and come on then I’ll try and make an impact. It’s always good at the Nou Camp. It’s even better when you win there. Winning the European Cup wasn’t against Barcelona but that’s my
greatest memory of playing there.

Top level: David Beckham continues to look comfortable against some of the world's very best

Top level: David Beckham continues to look comfortable against some of the world's very best

‘And when we [Real Madrid] beat them there 2-1, the first time Real Madrid had beaten them there for a few years, was special too.’

Despite a role as an impact player and turning 38 next month, Beckham revealed his training regime hasn’t changed much over the years.

‘At my age usually you change things,’ he said. ‘But I’m still training the same as the rest of the players and the team, work as hard as them and don’t want to be treated any differently, even at my age.’

Mario Balotelli scores again for AC Milan, his fourth goal in three league games, with a curling free-kick against Parma

Milan falls deeper in love with Mario (and so does his girlfriend) after Balotelli grabs his FOURTH goal in three games back home

-13 season for Manchester City.

The volatile Italian forward has made an instant impact on his return to Milan and he scored yet again with a 78th-minute free-kick at the San Siro in a 2-1 win over Parma.

His girlfriend Fanny Robert Neguesha, a Belgian model, was in the stands to see his curling free-kick and she caught the eye as she made heart shapes with her hands… presumably aimed at Balotelli.

You beauty: Mario Balotelli curls in a 78th-minute free-kick against Parma

You beauty: Mario Balotelli curls in a 78th-minute free-kick against Parma

Flying start! The Italian scored his fourth goal in three league games for Milan

Flying start! The Italian scored his fourth goal in three league games for Milan

Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli

Why always me Balotelli celebrates his goal at the San Siro

Embrace: Balotelli celebrates his goal with team-mate Riccardo Montolivo

Embrace: Balotelli celebrates his goal with team-mate Riccardo Montolivo

Since Balotelli left the Etihad in January, not a lot has gone right for Manchester City as draws against QPR and Liverpool as well as defeat at Southampton have all but ended their chances of retaining the Premier League crown they won on a dramatic final day last year.

But the controversial striker has made a flying start to his Milan career, which began with fireworks on the day of his arrival.

In the stands: Balotelli's girlfriend Fanny Robert Neguesha makes a heart shape with her hands

In the stands: Balotelli's girlfriend Fanny Robert Neguesha makes a heart shape with her hands

Guest: Balotelli's girlfriend Fanny Robert Neguesha makes a heart shape with her hands

Everton v Spurs: David Moyes talks up Tottenham fatigue

Tired Tottenham would concern me if I was AVB, says Everton manager Moyes

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UPDATED:

14:43 GMT, 8 December 2012

Everton manager David Moyes admits player fatigue is something he would be worried about if he was in his Tottenham counterpart Andre Villas-Boas' position ahead of Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash.

The contest at Goodison Park comes less than three days after Spurs' 3-1 Europa League victory over Panathinaikos on Thursday night, for which Villas-Boas fielded a relatively strong starting XI.

Although Moyes feels that will not necessarily have a negative impact on the London outfit, he says he would definitely be concerned about the possibility if it was his team.

Euro stars: Spurs played in Europe on Thursday and Everton boss David Moyes says they could be suffering from fatigue

Euro stars: Spurs played in Europe on Thursday and Everton boss David Moyes says they could be suffering from fatigue

Asked if he thought fatigue might be an issue for Tottenham, Moyes said: 'I think if we had been playing, I would be thinking about that – I'd be saying it is a possibility.

'Does that really happen I'm not sure. I'm not a great believer that it really happens.

'But if I was the manager, I would certainly be worried about it.'

The evidence of recent weeks would suggest that Villas-Boas is doing a good job of balancing European and domestic commitments.

/12/08/article-2245027-16424C0D000005DC-890_468x388.jpg” width=”468″ height=”388″ alt=”Tough test: Moyes wants his Everton side to see off their rivals at Goodison Park” class=”blkBorder” />

Tough test: Moyes wants his Everton side to see off their rivals at Goodison Park

'They have a really good team,' Moyes said.

'It always takes managers time to settle in, but when you are left with an array of players like Tottenham have got, then you are always going to be very close to the top of the league.

'Tottenham have always been there or thereabouts. They have set the team and the club up to be in Europe, they did great in the Champions League with Harry a couple of years ago and this year they have done well to qualify for the next stages of the Europa League.

'Tottenham are one of the clubs you always see as competing at the top end of the league.'

Everton, who have drawn seven of their last nine fixtures and are three points behind Tottenham, could have Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman back available for tomorrow's match.

Moyes says forward Mirallas, who has missed four games due to a hamstring injury, and full-back Coleman, sidelined for three by an unspecified problem, have 'outside chances' of featuring against Spurs.

Victor Anichebe (hamstring) and Phil Neville (knee) remain on the casualty list.

Nicklas Bendtner open to Spurs move

I'd be happy to move to Spurs: Arsenal outcast Bendtner open to White Hart Lane move

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UPDATED:

13:30 GMT, 18 November 2012

Nicklas Bendtner has opened the door to a controversial move across north London from Arsenal to bitter rivals Spurs.

The Danish striker, 24, is currently plying his trade in Italy on a season-long loan at Juventus, but has struggled to make a significant impact at the Italian champions.

And the Arsenal outcast – who spent last season on-loan at Sunderland – looks set to leave The Emirates on a permanent basis next summer and says he would have no problem in following in the footsteps of William Gallas and Emmanuel Adebayor by moving to White Hart Lane as he is keen to stay in London.

Keen to earn his Spurs: Nicklas Bendtner is playing for Juventus this season, but says he would not rule a move to Tottenham

Keen to earn his Spurs: Nicklas Bendtner is playing for Juventus this season, but says he would not rule a move to Tottenham

'History is filled with examples of players moving between rival clubs and I can't rule out clubs due to where I might have been in the past,' Bendtner said.

'It might not be the best idea but if the project matches my ambitions I would have to be interested.'

Crossing the divide: Emmanuel Adebayor has played for both Arsenal and Spurs

Crossing the divide: Emmanuel Adebayor has played for both Arsenal and Spurs

He added on bold.dk: 'I still have a great relationship with London, which is a city that I adore.

'I have a lot of friends in London and there are a lot of great clubs in London, so I wouldn't rule out a return.'

Super subs – Edin Dzeko and Javier Hernandez join Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and David Fairclough

After Dzeko and Hernandez ride to the rescue, Sportsmail hails the game's greatest super subs

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UPDATED:

12:23 GMT, 12 November 2012

Some relish it, others loathe it – but someone has to be it.

In this age of massive squads full of talent, the role of super sub has become all-important again – and the two Manchester sides are leading the way.

Javier Hernandez and Edin Dzeko showed once again this weekend just how important a reliable impact player can be as they came off the bench to win three points for their teams.

Reluctant: He may not like it, but Edin Dzeko has become a Super Sub after scoring from the bench again against Tottenham

Reluctant: He may not like it, but Edin Dzeko has become a Super Sub after scoring from the bench again against Tottenham

Hernandez replaced a sub-par Ashley Young at half-time against Aston Villa and inspired a trademark United turnaround, scoring two goals and forcing another off the Villa captain Ron Vlaar.

Dzeko, meanwhile, as he has made a habit of doing this season, took off his tracksuit and laced up his boots to score an 88th-minute winner for Manchester City against Tottenham.

The Bosnian has now scored six of his seven goals this season from the bench, making him City’s top scorer despite having played a fraction of the game time of Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero.

He’s been one of the principal reasons why City, despite playing nowhere near their best, find themselves unbeaten, second and snapping at the heels of United.

On the opening afternoon, Dzeko’s goal dug City out of a hole against newly-promoted Southampton and he proved the match-winner at Fulham and West Brom, providing the tools to pick securely padlocked defences.

But Dzeko genuinely hates this new role. After scoring twice at The Hawthorns, he thundered: ‘I will never be a super-sub, I want to play.’

Me too: Javier Hernandez came on and scored two goals and forced an own goal as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-2

Me too: Javier Hernandez came on and scored two goals and forced an own goal as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-2

Me too: Javier Hernandez came on and scored two goals and forced an own goal as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-2

But why not Every team would take such a reliable bench-warmer and his penchant for scoring dramatic late goals can only endear him more to the fans.

What’s more, if he continues to top City’s goalscoring charts, then surely a starting place will eventually follow

/11/12/article-2231698-027E05890000044D-296_634x402.jpg” width=”634″ height=”402″ alt=”The original: David Fairclough (right) came on for Liverpool to score the decisive goal against St Etienne ” class=”blkBorder” />

The original: David Fairclough (right) came on for Liverpool to score the decisive goal against St Etienne

And the following year, he scored a goal of such magnitude that it guaranteed his place in the heart of every Liverpool fan.

Leading the formidable French side St Etienne 2-1 in a European Cup quarter-final but needing a late third to go through on aggregate, Fairclough found himself on the end of a long ball and through on goal.

With remarkable composure, he beat the goalkeeper and set-up a semi-final with FC Zurich and, ultimately, a win in the final over Borussia Monchengladbach – Liverpool’s first European Cup triumph.

VIDEO: DAVID FAIRCLOUGH IN ACTION AGAINST ST ETIENNE

But despite this, Fairclough was left on the bench for the final. As Bob Paisley later reflected, it was one of the toughest decisions of his managerial career: ‘I could have cried for David Fairclough, the hero against St Etienne, when I had to tell him that he wouldn’t even be getting stripped.’

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United 1996-2007)
Long before Hernandez, Sir Alex Ferguson had another great super sub to call upon, the “Baby-faced assassin” Solskjaer.

Given the tag, it may surprise you that just 29 of the Norwegian’s 126 United goals came from the bench, but it was the importance of some of those goals that secures his place in this list.

His first goal for the club – in a 2-2 Old Trafford draw with Blackburn on August 25, 1996 – came from the bench and set the tone.

Another Fergie treasure: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scpred Manchester United's winning goal against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final

Another Fergie treasure: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scpred Manchester United's winning goal against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final

Another Fergie treasure: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scpred Manchester United's winning goal against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final

Like Fairclough, Solskjaer found his chances limited by a prolific first-choice partnership – Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke – but as the schedule became every more demanding during the Treble campaign of 1998-1999, Solskjaer carved himself a real niche as a player of devastating impact.

He pipped Yorke and Cole, who both had two each, with a stunning four goals in 15 minutes to sink Nottingham Forest 8-1. He scored in stoppage time to beat Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round, nine minutes after coming on.

And, unforgettably, he came on in the Champions League final with Bayern Munich to score a 93rd-minute winner.

VIDEO: SOLSKJAER BAGS FOUR AGAINST NOTTINGHAM FOREST

VIDEO: SOLSKJAER IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL

Tore Andre Flo (Chelsea 1997-2000)
Another Norwegian import, Tore Andre Flo may not have scored goal of the significance of Solskjaer, but he became a cult hero at Chelsea for his goals from the bench at around the same time.

A 300,000 signing, Flo was never likely to dislodge the likes of Mark Hughes, Gianfranco Zola and player-manager Gianluca Vialli from the forward line at Stamford Bridge. But the fans still appreciated his contribution of 50 goals, 13 of which came from the bench.

He contributed some important goals, including two in a 4-3 away comeback at Blackburn in 1998-1999 and a couple away from home against Real Betis in the quarter-finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup in the same year.

LET US KNOW WHO WHO YOUR FAVOURITE SUPER SUB IS BY LEAVING A COMMENT BELOW

Atletico Madrid target Javier Hernandez in 12m deal to replace Falcao

Atletico Madrid want 12m Hernandez to replace Chelsea and Man City target Falcao

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UPDATED:

05:56 GMT, 22 October 2012

Heading for the exit: Hernandez

Heading for the exit: Hernandez

Atletico Madrid are hoping that Manchester United's Javier Hernandez can be the man to fill Radamel Falcao's boots should the striker depart as expected in January.

Falcao, 26, has become the most sought-after striker in Europe and Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are queuing up to meet his 46m release clause in the next transfer window.

The Colombian has already expressed his
desire to leave the Spanish capital and Atletico hope to lure Mexican
Hernandez as his replacement, according to Metro.

The 24-year-old arrived in England for a
fee of around 7m in 2010 but despite making an instant impact at the
club he has fallen behind Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and summer arrival
Robin van Persie in the Old Trafford pecking order this season.

Bench-warmer: Hernandez (right) has started just one Premier League game this season

Bench-warmer: Hernandez has started just one Premier League game this season

Hernandez – who netted 20 goals in
his debut campaign at United when he started the Champions League final –
has just started just one Premier League game this season and has
netted just once in seven appearances.

Fiorentina are also interested in a
January move for the man nicknamed 'Chicarito' but they are only willing
to pay 8m and will be gazumped should Atletico be funded by the sale
of Falcao.

Hot property: Falcao celebrates scoring the winner against Sociedad on Sunday night

Hot property: Falcao celebrates scoring the winner against Sociedad on Sunday

Falcao took his tally for the season to 12 goals in just eight games with the winner against Real Sociedad on Sunday night.

The former Porto striker scored a hat-trick in the European Super Cup win over Chelsea – who are the favourites for his signature despite oil-rich PSG and Man City both expressing an interest.

Johan Cruyff praises Celtic for improvement

Cruyff hails Celtic for improvement on Euro comeback ahead of Barca double bill

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UPDATED:

22:43 GMT, 21 October 2012

Footballing legend Johan Cruyff has praised Celtic for making an instant impact on their return to the Champions League – and urged Neil Lennon's men to believe in their ability to create a shock.

Celtic, having ended a three-year absence from the Champions League by qualifying for the group stage, impressed Cruyff with their first-ever away win in the competition by beating Spartak Moscow in Russia last month.

Believe: Johan Cruyff says Celtic can pose a threat to Barca

Believe: Johan Cruyff says Celtic can pose a threat to Barca

As they prepare for their doubleheader against mighty Barca, starting with Tuesday night's daunting tie in Catalonia, Cruyff told Sportsmail: 'I know Celtic have bought wisely and they have developed some of their own players.

'That is why they are back at this level. And it was a big result in Moscow. A lot of very big clubs would struggle with that fixture away to Spartak – but they showed something by going to Russia and winning.

Dangermen: Barcelona will be a massive task

Dangermen: Barcelona will be a massive task

'It's impossible, of course, to say how they will progress from here. Normally, Barcelona has a much better team than Celtic. If everything is as it should be, then Barcelona win every time.

'But there are things a coach can do, things players can do, to make the gap less. Celtic have to work very hard and believe that they can achieve something.'

Huddersfield 1 Derby 0: Danny Ward scores winner in 47 seconds

Huddersfield 1 Derby 0: Quick-fire Ward takes just 47 seconds to net winner

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UPDATED:

17:15 GMT, 15 September 2012

Football League blog

Danny Ward scored after just 47 seconds as Huddersfield beat toothless Derby to continue their encouraging start to life in the npower Championship.

The former Bolton winger caught the Rams cold when he turned in Adam Hammill's cross and that proved to be enough to give the Terriers their second win of the season.

After a terrible start, Derby played some attractive football but they lacked a cutting edge and were unable to rescue a point which would have been no more than they deserved.

Gone in 47 seconds: Danny Ward celebrates his early winner for Huddersfield

Gone in 47 seconds: Danny Ward celebrates his early winner for Huddersfield

Match facts

Huddersfield: Smithies, Hunt, Peter Clarke, Lynch, Dixon, Hammill (Arfield 86), Ward (Novak 67), Norwood, Clayton, Southern, Vaughan (Scannell 89). Subs not used: Bennett, Woods, Gerrard, Lee.

Booked: Dixon, Hunt, Lynch.

Scorer: Ward 1.

Derby: Fielding, Brayford, Keogh, O'Connor, Roberts (Buxton 90), Hughes, Bryson, Hendrick, Doyle (Jacobs 64), Ward, Sammon (Robinson 78). Subs not used: Legzdins, Tyson, Gjokaj, Freeman.

Booked: Ward.

Referee: Trevor Kettle.

Attendance: 15,265.

Huddersfield have lost just once since returning to the second tier and look very much at home at this level, with Simon Grayson having blended together a well organised side.

The Derby coach was late arriving after being held up in traffic and Nigel Clough's side were caught napping after just 47 seconds when Huddersfield took the lead.

Hammill was the architect, with the on-loan winger making an instant impact on his home debut as he raced down the right unchallenged and was allowed to pick out the on-rushing Ward, who got in front of his marker and diverted the ball past Frank Fielding with a neat right-foot finish.

The Rams were guilty of some sloppy passing and continued to create problems for themselves but started to get into their stride with some slick passing and movement.

Delighted: Huddersfield manager Simon Grayson

Delighted: Huddersfield manager Simon Grayson

And it needed a great last ditch tackle from Terriers captain Peter Clarke to get team-mate Paul Dixon out of jail after the full-back's poor pass let in Jamie Ward, who laid the ball off to Connor Sammon. Clarke stepped in with a brilliantly timed tackle to deny the big striker as he was seemingly poised to equalise.

Derby continued to dominate possession
but Huddersfield looked dangerous going forward and Craig Bryson
breathed a sigh of relief when he headed a free-kick wide of his own
goal.

Rams boss Clough
clearly had a few words to say to his players at half-time as they made a
bright start to the second half, but Huddersfield almost doubled their
lead when Adam Clayton's drive was tipped around the post by Fielding.

But
the Terriers were struggling to keep hold of the ball and Conor Doyle
spurned a great chance to equalise when he fired over the crossbar at
the far post after a good run from the lively Jamie Ward.

Former
Terriers striker Theo Robinson was given a warm ovation when he
replaced Sammon with 12 minutes remaining with Derby still enjoying
plenty of possession but lacking quality in the final third.

Huddersfield sat deeper as the clocked ticked down and the Rams had a big shout for a penalty deep into stoppage time.

Referee Trevor Kettle waved play on when Jeff Hendrick went down in the area after a strong challenge in the air and the Terriers held on for all three points.

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce calls on Carlton Cole to fill Andy Carroll void

Hammers boss Allardyce calls on Cole to fill Carroll void

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UPDATED:

16:37 GMT, 13 September 2012

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce is hoping
Carlton Cole can rediscover his goalscoring touch while loanee Andy
Carroll recovers from the hamstring injury he suffered on his Hammers
debut.

Carroll, 23, was signed on a
season-long loan from Liverpool towards the end of the transfer window
and made an instant impact on his debut against Fulham.

Danger man: Carlton Cole (left)

Danger man: Carlton Cole (left)

The day was ruined for the England striker when he was forced off with little over an hour gone after suffering a hamstring injury that could see him miss up to six weeks.

Allardyce is likely to turn to Cole to replace the former Newcastle striker when he takes his side to Norwich on Saturday and wants the 28-year-old to show a lethal touch in front of goal.

He said: 'He is an obvious replacement and we would like Carlton to do how he finished off last season.

'He scored a hatful of goals for us and
helped us get back into this lucrative Premier League so we would like
him to step in and start scoring the goals he did towards the back-end
of last season.

'We hope he can hit the goalscoring trail when he gets the opportunity on Saturday.'

If Cole is selected in the starting XI at Carrow Road it will be his 150th start for West Ham and he will be hoping to establish himself in the side before Carroll returns from injury.

With the club still yet to put a definitive time-frame on his hamstring injury Allardyce is hoping he could welcome Carroll back for the encounter with Sunderland at Upton Park on Saturday week after stunning medical staff with his response to treatment.

'We have got no time on it really,' he said.'”It will be a maximum of six weeks but he is improving well so we continue day-by-day and look at every day and see what type of improvement we have got and go from there.

'If there is a possibility we can get him back quicker we will be trying our best.'

The loan signing of Carroll was one of the marquee deals of the transfer window and the arrival of the England international, coupled with other new arrivals, has left Allardyce delighted with the some of the options he now has at his disposal.

'The last three signings that the co-chairmen okayed were brilliant for us,' he said.

Injury blow: Andy Carroll

Injury blow: Andy Carroll suffered the setback against Fulham

'I think Matt Jarvis, Andy Carroll and Yossi (Benayoun) are all of great talent in their own positions and all of a different talent that makes us a much better team and a much better squad.

'Hopefully when they get the opportunity to play they will show those talents from the very first opportunity they get.

'We have got Matt Jarvis who is the provider of more crosses than anyone else in the Premier League during his time at Wolves.

'We've got Yossi Benayoun with his quick feet and his ability to beat players in and around the final third – and we have got Andy Carroll who plays up front and in his own right is a fantastic centre-forward through his sheer talent, determination and his size.

'Those three players will make our side look good for the rest of this season.'

Although the transfer window has now closed Allardyce also confirmed that he has three trialists currently training with the first team.

Experienced defender Mikael Silvestre, Ghana international John Mensah and former Portsmouth utility player Anthony Vanden Borre are all being given a chance to earn deals at the club, although Allardyce has yet to make up his mind on any of them.

'They have been training with us but there is no decision on whether we will be pursuing their services or not at this moment in time,' he said.

Romelu Lukaku looking for bigger role at West Bromwich Albion

Showman Lukaku pushing Clark for a bigger role at West Brom after early signs of talent

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UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 19 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

The only promise West Bromwich's head coach Steve Clarke could make to Romelu Lukaku was that he would receive more game time at the Hawthorns than at Stamford Bridge.

On the evidence of his cameo against Liverpool, it will not be long before the powerful teenager is a regular starter.

West Bromwich have had to dig deep financially to pay Lukaku's wages while he is on loan for the season from Chelsea.

Get in there! Romelu Lukaku scored West Brom's third and final goal against Liverpool

Get in there! Romelu Lukaku scored West Brom's third and final goal against Liverpool

WHAT THEY NEED IN THE WINDOW

Boss Steve Clarke would like more defensive cover.

He is chasing another centre half, although he has Team GB stopper Craig Dawson on standby and Liam Ridgewell could also deputise.

But the 19-year-old made an instant impact, scoring with a header less than 10 minutes after his introduction as a secondhalf substitute.

However, it was the youngster's general confidence that appealed. He has the air of a showman.

For instance, immediately after the Liverpool defence regrouped to repel his first charge at keeper Pepe Reina, the Belgian was gesturing to the Brummie Road end of the ground to pump up the volume.

'It was pleasing for Romelu to score,' said Clarke. 'He probably thought he should start, but I have fantastic options on the bench.

So it begins: Lukaku started his loan spell from Chelsea with a brilliant cameo performance

So it begins: Lukaku started his loan spell from Chelsea with a brilliant cameo performance

So it begins: Lukaku started his loan spell from Chelsea with a brilliant cameo performance

He's not bad either: Zoltan Gera (right) marked his return to West Brom with a goal

He's not bad either: Zoltan Gera (right) marked his return to West Brom with a goal

'For any striker, scoring their first goal in the Premier League will give them confidence. He's a handful, that's for certain. If he keeps performing like that, then he is pushing me to start him and I want that competition.'

As well as an impressive start for Lukaku, there was also a general show of delight for Zoltan Gera, who scored what he claimed afterwards was his finest strike for the club.

The Hungary skipper has twice battled back from injury – the latest being a nine-month lay-off with knee ligament damage.

This is his second spell with West Brom and Gera said: 'It's probably my best goal. It was special after being out for so long.

The coach was great with me. 'He told me that I had no need to worry, just to work hard and show what I can do.

'West Brom is a special place for me. Even when I left, the supporters gave me a great reception and I want to repay them.'