Roberto Firmino's header keeps Liverpool's top-four aspirations on track
Roberto Firmino's header was enough to earn Liverpool a 1-0 win at West Brom and keep their top-four challenge on track.
The Brazilian nodded in a first-half winner to settle an unremarkable game and extend the Reds' unbeaten Premier League run to seven matches
Jurgen Klopp's side climbed over Manchester City into third, having played a game more, to strengthen their claim on a Champions League qualification spot.
Firmino settled a poor match of few clear chances at the Hawthorns, although Nacer Chadli and James Milner wasted fine openings
Albion have now taken just four points - against Manchester United and Arsenal - from their last seven games as their bid to break 50 points for the first time in the Premier League falters
Despite their struggles, the Baggies began brightly and Hal Robson-Kanu directed Matt Phillips' effort wide but Liverpool gradually took control and nearly went ahead after 15 minutes
Claudio Yacob squandered possession to Philippe Coutinho and he played in Firmino but the Brazilian dragged his angled shot wide
The visitors bossed the early stages, although it was Albion who created the best opening when Chadli was left red-faced after 23 minutes
Gareth McAuley found Phillips and he hooked the ball to the far post with Chadli waiting to tap in but the former Tottenham man missed his kick from four yards, having been put off by the slightest of touches from Firmino
Immediately Coutinho volleyed wide at the other end and the lively Robson-Kanu fired straight at Simon Mignolet 10 minutes before the break but they were brief flash points in a tedious game
Albion sat deep and denied Liverpool space, with their plan working until the Reds broke the monotony to grab the winner seconds before half-time.
Lucas flicked on James Milner's right-wing free-kick and Firmino stole ahead of Craig Dawson to head in
It gave Liverpool impetus and they should have doubled their lead 11 minutes after the restart
The visitors had maintained control and a precise build-up sent Firmino scampering into the area but Milner could only volley over his floated cross
Divock Origi's header was disallowed for offside shortly afterwards and all Liverpool needed to win was to keep their concentration
The Baggies offered little threat until 10 minutes from time when Mignolet needed to be alert to preserve the points
Firmino, of all people, lost the ball to Salomon Rondon and he teed-up Phillips only for the winger to be thwarted by the on-rushing Mignolet
And substitute Alberto Moreno should have settled it in stoppage time but, after goalkeeper Ben Foster had come up for a corner and been dispossessed, shot wide of an open goal from 40 yards.
Source : PA