Wednesday 15 August 2018

Mo Salah equals goals record for a 38-game season but West Brom strike late for unlikely draw

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring his side's second goal
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring his side's second goal

Steve Madeley

West Bromwich Albion rained on Mohamed Salah’s parade as the Premier League’s bottom club staged a fine comeback to claim a 2-2 draw against Liverpool at The Hawthorns.

Salah’s record-equalling goal gave the Reds a 2-0 lead with just 18 minutes remaining and seemed certain to help them tune up for their Champions League semi-final with a Premier League victory.

Yet Albion bagged two goals in the final eight minutes through Jake Livermore and Salomon Rondon to deliver an unexpected blow to Jurgen Klopp’s side three days from their big meeting with Roma.

Danny Ings looked set to take the headlines with his first goal in more than two years. Salah then appeared to steal top billing as he bagged his 41st goal of a stunning debut season with the Reds.

But even the free-scoring Egyptian was upstaged in part by Livermore and Rondon.

Salah, who will face former club Roma on Tuesday in the first leg of the Champions League last-four tie, equalled Luis Suarez’s 2013-14 club record of 31 goals in a Premier League season.

And his 41st goal in all competitions means only Anfield legends Roger Hunt and Ian Rush have bagged more goals in a single campaign.

Hunt managed 42 in the second division in 1961-62 while Rush amassed 47 in 1983-84 but Salah has already secured his standing among Merseyside football royalty.

West Brom ensured he was not on the winning side, however, and six days on from their victory at Manchester United they recovered another small piece of pride in a dismal season.

Yet the Baggies, despite a vast improvement under caretaker manager Darren Moore, could still be relegated this weekend if results elsewhere go against them.

Liverpool set the early pace and took less than four minutes to open the scoring from their second corner of the game.

Sadio Mane exchanged passes with James Milner before skipping past Jay Rodriguez and crossing to the edge of the six-yard box.

Georginio Wijnaldum laid it off inadvertently to Ings, who poked home from close range for his first goal since October 2015 - a period of 930 days. It was the former Burnley forward’s second league start in the same period.

It took West Brom 15 minutes to cause Liverpool any alarm, and when they did Kieran Gibbs was on hand to prevent a Matt Phillips cross reaching James McClean at the far post.

Then Chris Brunt sent a long-range effort well over as the Baggies attempted to muster a response. When a Brunt pass released Rodriguez, he cut back and fed Phillips for a shot that was saved low down by Loris Karius before Liverpool stepped up the pace and Salah curled a free-kick just wide after being dragged back by fellow Egyptian Ahmed Hegazi.

Yet the hosts applied some pressure as the opening half reached its latter and when James Milner was caught in possession by Jake Livermore and his cross was fired back across goal by James McClean, a sliding Rodriguez was a whisker away from forcing it home.

Liverpool might have doubled their lead ŧhree minutes from half-time when Salah combined with Joe Gomez to free Ings, whose shot was blocked superbly by Albion goalkeeper Ben Foster.

Amid the period of West Brom promise came two moments of controversy involving Ings. First the striker appeared to be blocked off the ball by Craig Dawson but his penalty appeals were rejected. Then he looked to be punched in the chest by Hegazi as the pair grappled on the floor following a challenge.

And with 18 minutes remaining, Salah appeared to snuff out any hopes of a West Brom fightback with his record-breaking goal.

Roberto Firmino headed down a goal-kick by Karius to fellow substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who threaded a ball for Salah to race onto a chip the advancing Foster.

But the hosts halved the arrears with 11 minutes remaining as Livermore forced the ball home after Dawson’s shot was charged down in a frantic scramble.

And with two minutes left they bagged an unlikely equaliser as Brunt’s free-kick was thundered home by the head of Rondon at the near post.

West Brom (4-4-2): Foster; Nyom, Dawson, Hegazi, Gibbs (Burke 76); Phillips, Livermore, Brunt, McClean (Evans 71); Rodriguez (Robson-Kanu 89), Rondon. Subs: Myhill, Yacob, Krychowiak, Field.

Liverpool (4-3-3): Karius; Gomez, Van Dijk, Klavan, Moreno; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Milner; Salah (Lovren 84), Ings (Firmino 66), Mane (Oxlade-Chamberlain 66). Subs: Mignolet, Robertson, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold. Booked: Moreno.

Independent News Service

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