Match Reports

It's magic from Mitoma as Albion beat Liverpool again

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WInger strikes in stoppage time in 2-1 win that puts Albion into fifth round of the FA Cup.

By Bruce Talbot • 29 January 2023

By Paul Hazlewood
Kaoru Mitoma is off on a celebratory run after his stunning winner.

Kaoru Mitoma grabbed a sensational stoppage-time winner to send Albion into the fifth round of the FA Cup and condemn Liverpool to their second defeat at the Amex in a fortnight.

It looked as if the outcome neither side wanted – a replay at Anfield – was on the cards when the Japanese winger struck with a close-range volley as Albion came from behind to win an entertaining tie which flowed from end to end through 90-plus pulsating minutes.

Harvey Elliott had given Liverpool the lead but Albion fought back to level before the break when Lewis Dunk diverted Tariq Lamptey’s piledriver past Alisson.

Albion had the better chances in the second half with Solly March denied bravely by Alisson but they came again and Mitoma’s brilliant finish had Albion fans dancing in the aisles at full time.

By Paul Hazlewood
Evan Ferguson in a foot race with Ibrahima Konate.

Roberto De Zerbi had made four changes to the side which drew 2-2 at Leicester City last week with Jason Steele, Tariq Lamptey, Adam Webster and Evan Ferguson coming in.

The game began at a ferocious pace with both sides clearing the ball off their line in the first 15 minutes.

Mo Salah was denied by Lewis Dunk’s intervention when he let fly from a tight angle on the right in the third minute, but Albion were soon on the offensive.

Solly March attacked space in behind Andy Robertson down the right and his low cut-back found its way to Evan Ferguson eight yards out. The Irishman’s shot wasn’t hit with perhaps as much power as he’d like but it still needed Trent Alexander-Arnold to clear it off the line. March then found space in a more central position but his right-foot drive was always rising over Alisson’s crossbar.

Mitoma was next to test Alisson when he cut in from the right, exchanged passes with Ferguson and let fly but the Liverpool keeper made a fairly comfortable save to his right.

By Paul Hazlewood
Pascal Gross shields the ball from Cody Gakpo.

The chances continued to come. Harvey Elliott threaded a pass between Dunk and Webster to put Salah in but he curled his effort wide of the far post, although he would have been offside had he scored. Lamptey then produced a timely intervention to prevent Salah from reaching Cody Gakpo’s pass.

But it was Liverpool who broke the deadlock in controversial fashion on the half-hour. Albion protested that Naby Keita handled in his own half before the ball was played forward to Salah. He slotted it into Elliott and although Steele got a hand to his angled shot it had enough power to find the bottom corner.

It was harsh on Albion and they deserved to draw level in the 40th minute. A corner was half-cleared to Lamptey 30 yards out and Dunk diverted his shot through a crowd of players past the wrong-footed Alisson. Whether he meant it or not doesn’t matter, it had the Amex on their feet.

Joel Veltman replaced Webster at the break and their defensive partner Dunk clearly had a taste for goal. He was perhaps the unlikely taker of the free-kick awarded 25 yards out for a foul on Alexis Mac Allister in the 50th minute but the skipper’s right-foot effort didn’t miss the top right-hand corner of the goal by much.

By Paul Hazlewood
Kaoru Mitoma gets in a shot.

Albion had a great chance four minutes later when Mitoma left Alexander-Arnold trailing and his cross was parried by Alisson. March teed the loose ball up for Pascal Gross who couldn’t keep his volley down.

Steele hadn’t been troubled too often but his instinctive reaction to paw away Salah’s cross-shot, after good work by substitute James Milner to create the chance. Ibrahima Konate’s heavy challenge on Ferguson earned him the first booking and Dunk followed him into referee Coote’s notebook for tugging Gakpo’s shirt.

Billy Gilmour replaced Danny Welbeck with a quarter of the contest to go with both sides going for it and Albion went desperately close in the 71st minute. Mitoma was the creator, funnelling a cross with the outside of his boot into the six yard box. March met it but Alisson made a superb block and the ball ricocheted off the wideman and wide.

Konate produced an even better intervention nine minutes later when Ferguson lashed the loose ball goalwards from the corner of the six-yard box and the Liverpool defender stuck out his right leg to block the shot. But Konate was fortunate moments later to get away with a blatant shove which floored Mac Allister as he raced through on goal.

As both sides went for it Fabinho’s crude tackle on Ferguson earned him a booking and the teenager limped off and was replaced by Deniz Undav. Robertson followed him into the book for a bad foul on Mac Allister and with the game moving into stoppage time Albion made their move.

Gross swung the free kick over. Pervis Estupinan lobbed it to the back post and Mitoma brought the ball under control, flicked it inside Joe Gomez and volleyed it into the roof of the net. The Amex went nuts and nuts again when a VAR check ruled that a Liverpool defender had played him onside before more celebrations at full-time. What a finish! 

Albion: Steele, Lamptey, Webster (Veltman 45), Dunk, Estupinan, March, Mac Allister, Gross, Mitoma, Welbeck (Gilmour 67), Ferguson (Undav 87).

Subs: Sanchez, Sarmiento, Enciso, van Hecke, Moran, Hinshelwood.

Referee: David Coote