Liverpool secured a huge three points this afternoon as Roberto Firmino’s header shortly before the break was sufficient to ensure the win. They are now nine points clear of fifth placed Everton and sixth placed Manchester United, although the latter have three games in hand.
The first half was a largely uneventful affair, with Divock Origi trickling a shot towards goal, and West Brom creating nothing except a few throw-ins. Liverpool did well to restrict them to only one corner, from which they are so deadly, but both teams seemed lethargic.
Neither side kept the ball well, and the majority of Liverpool’s 70% first-half possession was achieved when passing the ball around at the back. Philippe Coutinho struggled to get into the game in an attacking sense, but put in a huge shift defensively.
Hal Robson-Kanu had the biggest chance of the game and really should have scored, but failed to convert on the volley.
Just inside the minute of added time at the end of the first period, James Milner swung in a free-kick from the right hand side. The kick was misplaced, but fell for Lucas to head into the path of Firmino, who headed past Ben Foster.
Liverpool went in one in front, but fortunately so. Very few clear-cut opportunities had been created.
In the second half, West Brom made little effort to increase their attacking output, still content to sit in and play for long throws. Liverpool exerted more pressure, and whilst they did not add to their tally, looked more likely at times.
Firmino, Coutinho and Origi all had chances to get shots on goal, but none found the net. James Milner too missed a huge chance when he smashed a volley over the top from close-range.
It took Tony Pulis’s side until the 80th minute to really go for a goal with serious intent. The final ten minutes plus stoppage time were frantic, with both sides throwing players all over the pitch, with no control or organisation from either side in the scramble to the end.
Pulis instructed Darren Fletcher to move further forwards for the final push, and he began to cause problems. Balls were thrown into the mix, but Simon Mignolet did well, opting to punch clear on numerous occasions.
West Brom’s best chance fell to Matt Phillips, but the Belgian goalkeeper made a big save from the one-on-one. Mignolet has been critised a lot this season, but has saved Liverpool from dropping points for two matches in a row now – how big might the last two games be come the end of the season.
Amidst the chaos, Alberto Moreno managed to miss an open goal when Foster had joined the attack, leaving his goal unguarded, but Liverpool held on. The miss could have been costly, but the score remained 1-0.
The Reds now have six points from two tough away games – Stoke and now West Brom – and have five fixtures remaining.
This was far from egg-cellent, but a happy Easter for Jurgen Klopp’s men has been achieved.
Simon Mignolet, 8 – made a crucial save from Phillips and dealt with the long balls, corners and throw-ins very effectively
Nathaniel Clyne, 7 – provided an outlet going forward and defended against Chadli, keeping him quiet for most of the game
Joel Matip, 7 – had a slow first half, but improved in the second and won several balls in the air
Dejan Lovren, 7 – coped with what the opponent threw at him, but played some poor passes early on
James Milner, 7 – missed a big chance to kill the game late on; other than that had another steady game and defended well for the most part
Lucas, 8 – an all-action performance marshalling in front of the defence; made some important interceptions and generally did well on the ball
Emre Can, 7 – made some poor choices as he often does, but also recovered possession multiple times and did more good than bad; not his best game but far from his worst
Gini Wijnaldum, 7 – strong as usual but did not offer as much as he sometimes does going forward; important in keeping possession near the end and always has some form of impact on the game
Philippe Coutinho, 7 – got into the game more in the second half and put in a big shift defensively but did not have any huge chances to make an impact
Divock Origi, 7 – held the ball up well at times but could do more to get into the box to provide an option; spent a lot of time out wide
Roberto Firmino, 7 – kept the ball well apart from a dangerous attempt at a Cruyff turn on the edge of his own box; scored the winning goal and was quite effective throughout
Daniel Sturridge (82nd minute sub.), 6 – did not do much but ran around and closed down well when he had the chance; needs to show even more if he is to still be around next season
Alberto Moreno (92nd minute sub.), n/a – did nothing apart from miss an open goal; not on long enough to make any other impact
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