West Brom 1 Liverpool 2: Sahin bags double to take nervy win for holders at Hawthorns
22:46 GMT, 26 September 2012
Brendan Rodgers may have overseen the worst Liverpool start to a league campaign in a century, but two goals from Nuri Sahin rewarded the manager for sticking to his principles.
Two points from the opening five matches in the Premier League could have seen the Liverpool boss adopt a more pragmatic approach for this difficult tie in the Black Country.
But far from sending out some of the big guns in a bid to change his luck, Rodgers fielded a team virtually unrecognisable to those without an intimate knowledge of the club.
No 1: Nuri Sahin scored his first two goals for Liverpool
Get in: The Liverpool players were delighted with the Real Madrid palyer's contribution
West Brom: Foster, Jones, Olsson, Tamas, Ridgewell (Dawson 22), Mulumbu, Dorrans, Thorne, Rosenberg, Fortune (El Ghanassy 87), Lukaku (Long 70).
Subs Not Used: Luke Daniels, Yacob, McAuley, Berahino.
Goal: Tamas 3.
Liverpool: Jones, Wisdom, Carragher, Coates, Robinson, Henderson, Sahin, Downing, Pacheco (Fernandez Saez 81), Yesil (Sinclair 81), Assaidi.
Subs Not Used: Gulacsi, Wilson, Sterling, Coady, Sama.
Goals: Sahin 17,82.
Referee: Michael Oliver
And the Northern Irishman was rewarded for his brave and youthful selection eight minutes from time when on-loan Real Madrid midfielder Sahin finished from close range, capping a thoroughly impressive show from Rodgers’ rookies.
The victory was all the more impressive because Liverpool had to recover from the shock of losing a third-minute goal to West Brom centre half Gabriel Tamas that was as soft as they come.
But home keeper Ben Foster was culpable in allowing Sahin to equalise shortly afterwards and Liverpool settled into the tie, running out worthy winners.
Such has been the emphasis placed on youth and Rodgers’ determination to experiment that this third-round clash also saw Jerome Sinclair set a record as the youngest player to wear the club’s colours.
Remember the name, because Liverpool’s staff don’t seem able to do so. Persons unknown filled in the team-sheet beforehand, listing the striker’s name as Jordan. But his introduction in the 81st minute meant Sinclair, aged 16 years and six days, created history.
‘It’s great to have young players like that,’ said Rodgers. ‘I think it’s a symbol of how we are looking to progress.
Good hit: Sahin bagged his first goal in a Liverpool shirt against the Baggies
Get in: Sahin is congratulated after scoring his goal to level up the match
Teenager Sinclair makes history
Jerome Sinclair, aged 16 years and six days, became the youngest ever Liverpool player when he came on as an 81st-minute substitute. Sinclair comfortably beat the mark set in 2010 by Jack Robinson (16 years and 250 days).
‘We want to bring in top players but it’s equally important for us to develop top players. For me it’s about talent — irrespective of age. We have a very small squad. At the moment, I’ve got 12 senior players fit. We’ve had four games in 10 days and we are busy again next week.
‘So, young players are going to get their chance, if they have the talent. There’s a bright future here. And I think the fans are buying into what we are trying to do.
‘It’s even more special when you have so many young players against a West Brom side that have had such a fantastic start.’
Rodgers could not avoid a slight hiccup, however, as he referred to record-breaker Sinclair as ‘Jermain’ in his first post-match interview. After the team-sheet gaffe, you could say the youngster made three names for himself.
In it goes: Gabriel Tamas put the Baggies ahead after just three minutes
Tough break: Both teams battled hard for the win
Rodgers added: ‘It was a great moment for him and it was nice when he received a round of applause in the dressing-room afterwards. But it’s no good setting the record, the hard work starts here. He wants to learn and he’s a good kid.’
The manager was not the only one to slip up last night. Liverpool goalkeeper Jones was at fault after Liam Ridgewell pumped a 40-yard free-kick deep into Liverpool’s penalty area. Jones sprinted from his line to take what should have been a routine catch.
However, with West Brom defender Jonas Olsson in pursuit, the Australian dropped the ball. Tamas had an empty net to aim for and duly found it from 12 yards.
Well done, son: Brendan Rodgers congratulated Suso after a solid performance
As the match progressed, Liverpool enjoyed increasingly more of the ball. They had worked it neatly around the pitch in the 17th minute before Sahin drew them level. The midfielder tried his luck from 30 yards with a low, left-foot drive that did not rise more than a foot above the ground and skidded past Foster.
The keeper did not have a clear view of the shot but the reaction suggested he felt he should have kept it out. Thumping his hand against the turf repeatedly, the ex-England man probably realised at the same time he had given the visitors a confidence boost as well as a way back into the tie.
Jones was properly tested just once more, when he palmed clear a shot from Markus Rosenberg from the edge of the area early in the second half.
Whack: Jack Robinson (right) tackled Marc-Antoine Fortune
Skipper: Jamie Carragher captained Liverpool once more at the Hawthorns
At the other end, Daniel Pacheco hit the bar with a cheeky 30-yard lob and Samed Yesil missed two headers. He was a nuisance throughout.
To cap an impressive return following his three-goal thumping on the opening day, Rodgers’ substitute Suso set up the outstanding Oussama Assaidi, who crossed for Sahin to sidefoot the winner.
It remained for Rodgers’ satisfactory evening to be rounded off with a home tie in the fourth round. It was the one he must have wanted, too: his old club Swansea, at Anfield.
‘They are two wonderful clubs with fantastic supporters,’ he said. ‘To get a home tie is special. For it to be Swansea is extra special.’
Powerless: Steve Clarke could do nothing to prevent his side losing 2-1 and crashing out