Liverpool 2-1 West Brom: Reds up to second in the Premier League
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 23/10/16 8:39am
Liverpool moved up to second in the Premier League thanks to a 2-1 win against West Bromwich Albion at Anfield on Saturday evening.
The Reds had appeared to be cruising towards a comfortable three points after first-half goals from Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho.
Gareth McAuley's close-range strike with nine minutes to go then set up a nervous finish, but the hosts held on to move level on points with leaders Arsenal, with only goal difference separating the sides.
The Baggies, meanwhile, drop to 13th in the table after just one away win in their last 11 league games.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was able to hand Adam Lallana, who came on as a substitute against Man Utd on Red Monday, a starting berth in place of Daniel Sturridge. And fellow midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum was also fit enough to take his place on the bench after recovering from the hip problem he picked up on international duty.
As for the visitors, experienced centre-back Jonas Olsson replaced the suspended Jonny Evans at the back, with the Swede making his first appearance since August.
The home side knew that victory by a two-goal margin would send them top of the table and unlike against United on Monday, they started as though they meant business.
In front of watching co-owner John W Henry, the Reds moved the ball about at pace in the opening quarter of an hour, albeit without testing Ben Foster in the Baggies goal, before opening the scoring after 20 minutes thanks to a lovely team goal.
West Brom lost possession of the ball deep in Liverpool's half, allowing James Milner to break forward and find Coutinho, whose clever dummy released the marauding Emre Can.
The Germany international then fed Roberto Firmino down the inside left channel, before the forward's lovely chipped ball was side-footed home by the unmarked Mane at the far post for his fourth goal of the season.
A quarter of an hour later and the home side had doubled their lead, although West Brom boss Tony Pulis will not be happy with his side's part in the goal.
It all started with a tricky ball back to goalkeeper Ben Foster, who then fluffed his attempted clearance, before captain Darren Fletcher was caught in possession by the ever-alert Mane.
The Senegal international wasted little time in feeding Coutinho and the diminutive playmaker then cut back inside, before beating Foster at his near post with a low shot.
At this stage of proceedings, Liverpool were rampant, quickest to every ball and attacking at will and Klopp's side really should have put the game out of sight after the break, only to waste a succession of chances.
Foster, as he was last week against Tottenham Hotspur, was in inspired form in the visitors' goal, racing off his line to deny Firmino, before then clawing away Dejan Lovren's goalbound header just before the hour-mark.
And if it was not Foster in the way, it was Olsson, with the Swede making one sensational block to prevent Can from scoring a third midway through the second period after another blistering counter by the hosts.
Pulis reacted by bringing on the returning Chris Brunt, James Morrison and Hal Robson-Kanu, and those changes appeared to breathe new life into the Baggies in the final quarter of the contest.
It was one of those subs, Brunt, who helped bring West Brom back into the game with his sweet left foot. The Northern Ireland international firstly created a half chance for McAuley with a swinging free kick to the far post that forced Karius into a save.
And from Brunt's resulting left-wing corner, Liverpool's frailties from set plays returned as the ball fell kindly at the feet of McAuley, who had the freedom of Anfield to thump the ball home from four yards out.
But that strike came just too late for West Brom to stage a comeback, with Liverpool hanging on for the win that sees them join Arsenal at the top of the table.
Liverpool: Karius (5), Clyne (7), Matip (7), Lovren (7), Milner (8), Can (7), Henderson (7), Lallana (7), Mane (8), Firmino (8), Coutinho (9)
Used subs: Wijnaldum (7), Lucas (6), Origi (6)
West Bromwich Albion: Foster (8), Dawson (6), McAuley (7), Olsson (8), Nyom (6), Fletcher (6), Yacob (6), Phillips (6), Chadli (7), McClean (6), Rondon (7)
Used subs: Robson-Kanu (7), Morrison (6), Brunt (7)
Man of the match: Philippe Coutinho