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A flop first day, first show

Brendan Rodgers endured a disastrous first Premier League game as Liverpool manager as his 10 men succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

sports Updated: Aug 18, 2012 23:45 IST
Birmingham

Brendan Rodgers endured a disastrous first Premier League game as Liverpool manager as his 10 men succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

In what was a dream start to life at the Hawthorns for their new head coach Steve Clarke, the Baggies eased to victory courtesy of a Peter Odemwingie penalty sandwiched between goals from Zoltan Gera and Romelu Lukaku.

While Gera's strike was an early contender for goal of the season, Odemwingie's spot kick arrived just three minutes after one had been missed by Shane Long - the foul on the Irishman earning Liverpool defender Daniel Agger a red card.

Substitute Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, added gloss with a goal on his debut as Clarke, assistant to Kenny Dalglish at Anfield last season, gained revenge for his close-season sacking.

It was a humbling start for former Swansea boss Rodgers, who had handed Joe Allen his Reds debut, as the Northern Irishman discovered the full extent of the task awaiting him at Liverpool.

A fairly even first half had seen Luis Suarez twice denied well by Ben Foster in the Baggies goal, while Long threatened with an audacious lob over the bar after outmuscling Lucas.

Uruguay internation Suarez was guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance on the half-hour mark, though, when he rose unmarked only to head Glen Johnson's left-wing centre over the crossbar from close range.

Worse was to follow for the Reds when Albion took the lead in stunning fashion just before the interval.

Martin Skrtel could only clear James Morrison's corner from the right into the path of Gera, on the edge of the area, and he demonstrated sublime technique to smash an unstoppable half-volley beyond Jose Reina.

It was a first Premier League goal in 20 months for the Hungary international in what was his first competitive outing since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury last November.

Suarez curled a free-kick shortly after half-time and the visitors' day soon took another turn for the worse.

A threaded pass from James Morrison sent Long through and the Ireland international tumbled inside the area following contact from Agger and Dowd responded by pointing to the penalty spot and sending Agger off. Skrtel clumsily caught the former Reading player inside the penalty area. This time, the home side made no mistake as Odemwingie, having wrestled the ball from James Morrison, stepped up and lashed a shot inside the left corner. The third goal soon arrived when Lukaku rose unchallenged at the back post in the 78th minute to head in a Liam Ridgewell cross.

Arsenal draw
London: Arsenal started life after Robin van Persie with a dispiriting 0-0 draw against Sunderland in their opener at the Emirates Stadium.

Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud all made their debuts but none of the new attacking trio could get on the scoresheet as Arsene Wenger's team failed to lift the gloom following van Persie's £24 million move to Manchester United earlier this week.

Giroud came off the bench and missed Arsenal's best chance of the day when he was sent through on goal, but Germany striker Podolski found chances difficult to come by.

Aside from van Persie, Wenger was also without Cameroon midfielder Alex Song, who has moved to Barcelona.

It meant Abou Diaby and Mikel Arteta were protecting a defence missing Laurent Koscielny with a calf problem.

Spanish winger Cazorla was in the starting line-up following his move from Malaga and Podolski also made his first appearance for the club.

But it was Sunderland who made the first decent chances of the game.

Stephane Sessegnon was up front on his own but he offered a warning of his threat when he skipped down the right and put in a good cross.