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Liverpool sends West Brom down with 2-0 win

STEVEN Gerrard scored the first and set up Dirk Kuyt for the second as Liverpool beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 yesterday to relegate the Baggies from the Premier League while Chelsea beat Blackburn 2-0.

Although the title race was out of reach after Manchester United clinched it on Saturday with a 0-0 draw with Arsenal, Liverpool sent out a full strength side at the Hawthorns and made it 12 victories in a row over West Brom as well as a club-record equalizing 13 away wins this season.

West Brom's 22nd defeat of the season means it remains last in the standings with 31 points and only one round of games to come next Sunday. The Baggies are relegated from the Premier League for the third time in seven seasons.

"I don't know how we didn't score today," said manager Tony Mowbray. "We created chances as we do every week but invariably the opposition take theirs.

"I feel as if we do give value for money most weeks, home and away. The supporters have been there before over the past seven or eight years, up and down and hopefully we can reward them next season with another promotion."

Next-to-last Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Hull and Sunderland are also in danger of winding up in the other two relegation spots.

West Brom's relegation also came on the day it suspended striker Roman Bednar after newspaper allegations that he bought cocaine and cannabis from a drug dealer hours after last week's 3-1 victory over Wigan.

After surviving an early spell of West Brom pressure in which goalkeeper Pepe Reina twice saved from Jonathan Greening, Liverpool went ahead in the 28th minute.

There appeared no danger until Shelton Martis lost control of the ball deep inside his own half. Gerrard took full advantage by racing clear of the defender and beating goalkeeper Dean Kiely for his 24th league and cup goal of the season, his best ever.

Liverpool should have been awarded a penalty just before halftime when West Brom defender Jonas Olsson barged Gerrard over but the referee turned down the Reds' appeals.

It was West Brom's turn to have a penalty turned down when Lucas Leiva brought down Marc-Antoine Fortune in the 59th minute.

And it was all over for the Baggies when Gerrard fed Kuyt with a through ball in the 63rd minute and the Dutch star weaved through to score the second with a low right foot shot.

West Brom striker Luke Moore hit the post and there was an angry confrontation between Jamie Carragher and Liverpool teammate Alvaro Arbeloa after the centerback accused the Spaniard of poor marking. Carragher pushed Arbeloa and they had to be kept apart by teammate Xabi Alonso.

"They were talking about clean sheets," manager Rafa Benitez said. "We needed one more maybe to be at the same level as (Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin) Van der Sar so they wanted to win without conceding. It's disappointing because it's better to do it another way."

Nicolas Anelka joined Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the Premier League scoring list with 18 goals with Chelsea's second against Blackburn at Stamford Bridge.

The French striker collected a sideways pass from co-striker Didier Drogba to power home a low, right foot shot in the 59th minute.

Anelka also set up the first goal after four minutes with a cross that set up Florent Malouda for a powerful long range header.

The victory means that Chelsea remains three points behind Liverpool and seven behind Manchester United. Throughout the second half, the Chelsea fans pleaded with Guus Hiddink to stay on as manager, the Dutchman having taken the job only until the end of the season before he returns to his full time role as coach of Russia's national team.

"It was surprising for me because, first of all, I only had a short period here," Hiddink said. "I worked with a lot of joy with these players and enjoyed the support of the fans. I didn't expect (the reception) to be in this magnitude so I'm surprised and very grateful.

"I came in in February to do a job. We needed to get the team out of the situation it was in at that moment, we really challenged each other and it was really unlucky that we could not have the other crown and be in the Champions League final."

Portsmouth and Sunderland meet on Monday to complete the next to last round of matches and the final schedule of games is next Sunday.


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