Henderson lifts Liverpool

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 1:23

Henderson lifts Liverpool

A moment of magic by Adam Lallana had the nervy Anfield faithful buzzing at the break with a fine strike and just as Saido Berahino looked to ruin the party with a penalty, up-popped Henderson to fire in the winner and launch the team back up to sixth spot.
Without a league win in three games and the memories of a Champions League defeat in Switzerland still present, Brendan Rodgers’ men looked intent on reigniting their spluttering season and almost got an early opener from Rickie Lambert who just failed to convert a Lallana cross.
Lambert, making his first start in place of Mario Balotelli, worked hard but looked a little off the pace as he failed again when presented with a one-on-one after a smart pass by Martin Skrtel.
These were golden chances and for all Liverpool’s possession, their opponents, looking for their third consecutive league win, were never going to be pushovers and the on-song Berahino proved to be a handful all afternoon and was denied an opener from a smart smothering save by Simon Mignolet.
Berahino also wastefully nodded over, but just before the interval the mood inside Anfield changed from anxious to elation as Lallana danced his way past three defenders, picked up the return pass from Henderson before rifling past Foster.
Back came Alan Irvine’s lively visitors after their refreshment as they got their reward for not panicking with a spot-kick after Dejan Lovren tripped Berahino on the edge of the box.
The Liverpool defence were incensed with the decision, but despite the chaos, the striker coolly buried it to level the score. 
It was a lead that lasted only five minutes. Raheem Sterling was unlucky not to get a penalty himself after being bundled over by Craig Gardner and as the defenders tried desperately to clear the ball, Henderson was lurking and smashed in the rebound.
Lambert was roundly applauded for his efforts as he was replaced by Balotelli and strangely it was the lively Italian who brought an air of calmness to the pitch with some neat touches in the middle, which included a shinned miss from the edge of the box.
West Brom chased down everything in search of another equaliser and Berahino should have done better with a close-range header but as Balotelli wasted a great chance for a third after a sweet move with Gerrard, it was the hosts who held on for a much-needed victory. 
Paul Merson’s verdict

“There seems to be a spark missing around the whole place with Liverpool – on the pitch, with the manager and with the fans. It’s not like it was last year, nowhere near. Last year they were buzzing the ball around and the movement was as good as I’ve seen from any team. It’s not the case any more. They are stuttering along at the moment.

“There’s something missing and I think it would be Sturridge because they are pace-less up front. Lallana was the one trying to make things happen and if it didn’t happen he would get back on the ball and try again. I thought he did what he did at Southampton and if he plays like that he is a good, good player.”

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