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West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Liverpool



Roberto Firmino
Roberto Firmino's header brought his 11th Premier League goal of the season
Roberto Firmino scored a winner for the second weekend running as Liverpool beat West Brom to go third in the Premier League.
The Brazil striker headed in at the end of the first half after Lucas Leiva had glanced on James Milner's free-kick.
Milner volleyed over after half-time, and Simon Mignolet saved with his legs from Matt Phillips at the other end.
Late on, Alberto Moreno missed an empty goal from 40 yards after Albion keeper Ben Foster had gone up for a corner.
Despite that miss, Jurgen Klopp's side secured a fifth win in seven games, sending West Brom to a third straight defeat.

Liverpool find their ugly side

West Brom touchmap
West Brom had only 10 touches in Liverpool's penalty area (right)
Klopp has spoken recently of the need for Liverpool to "win ugly" - having developed a habit of beating the Premier League's top teams and then slipping up against sides lower down.
Liverpool's manager was particularly wary of the threat that West Brom might pose from set-pieces, an area in which his team have been vulnerable defensively this season.
To counter that danger, Klopp used the fierce winds that hit Merseyside last Wednesday to his advantage - getting his players to face a barrage of high crosses and long throws in training that day.
The manager's reasoning was that if his players could deal with the ball in the air as it swirled about in the wind, they would be able to handle anything West Brom threw at them.
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By and large, the preparation worked - with Liverpool also making sure not to give away too many set-pieces - although there was one hairy moment in the first half when Nacer Chadli miskicked with the goal at his mercy after Liverpool had failed to defend a free-kick.
What was particularly impressive about Liverpool, though, was their midfield domination, which restricted the home side to just a handful of efforts at goal.
Lucas, Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can were key to keeping West Brom at bay, and ensured a win that keeps Klopp's side well on course for next season's Champions League.

No Mane? No problem

Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho
Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho have scored four of Liverpool's past five goals
Before last weekend's trip to Stoke, Liverpool had not won a league game all season without Sadio Mane in the team.
Klopp needed that statistic to change after a knee injury sustained against Everton on 1 April ended the Senegalese striker's season early.
He found inspiration in the Potteries as goals from Philippe Coutinho and Firmino sealed a 2-1 victory, and the two Brazil internationals were involved in Liverpool's best attacking moments at The Hawthorns.
Firmino proved his value in terms of creating chances as well as getting the winner, providing a fine diagonal pass that Coutinho volleyed wide in the first half, and crossing for Milner to volley over when well placed in the second.
Liverpool could have won by a greater margin with better finishing - with Moreno guilty of the most glaring miss.
The full-back, on as a substitute, burst away in the closing seconds after keeper Foster was caught upfield for a corner. Instead of running the ball into the net, Moreno elected to shoot from long range, and missed the target.

Albion fall flat

Matt Phillips
Albion's Matt Phillips was denied by Simon Mignolet with 10 minutes left
West Brom remain on course to finish eighth, and equal their highest final league placing since 1981, but their season is in danger of petering out.
Of their past seven matches, Tony Pulis' side have lost five and failed to score in six, with a 3-1 win over Arsenal on 18 March providing their only win and goals during that run.
Albion under Pulis have made a habit of being well organised, and of digging out victories with a significantly smaller share of possession.
Pulis praises 'fantastic' West Brom season
But they failed to cause Liverpool enough problems, managing just two shots on target all afternoon.
Hal Robson-Kanu hit the first tamely at Mignolet in the opening half, and the goalkeeper reacted well to save with his legs as Phillips ran clear with 10 minutes to go.
Even when they won a series of set-pieces in the closing moments, they could not make Liverpool pay.

Man of the match - Emre Can (Liverpool)

Emre Can
The Liverpool midfielder was involved in more duels (20) than anyone else on the pitch - and was instrumental in breaking West Brom's rhythm

Firmino hits fine form

  • Roberto Firmino has now surpassed his Premier League goal tally from last season (10 in 2015-16, 11 in 2016-17).
  • Since the start of last season, Firmino has been directly involved in 34 Premier League goals (21 goals, 13 assists), more than any other Liverpool player.
  • Liverpool have won 66 points from 33 games this season; six points more than they picked up in the whole of 2015-16.
  • West Brom have failed to score in four consecutive Premier League games for the first time since April 2003.
  • Liverpool have scored in more league away games this season (14) than they did in 2015-16 (13).
  • Lucas has provided two assists in a Premier League season for the first time since 2009-10.
  • West Brom have lost three of their past four Premier League games at The Hawthorns, as many as they lost in their previous 14 combined.
  • Liverpool kept only their second ;eague clean sheet in 2017, in what was their 14th game of this calendar year.

'No set-pieces, no set-pieces, no set-pieces'

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "It was a big win against a good, tall team. We played really well from the first second.
"We needed to adapt to what West Brom wanted to do. In all our plans, it was 'no set-pieces, no set-pieces, no set-pieces'."
On Liverpool's Champions League qualification chances: "It is the Premier League, Arsenal have three, four, five games in hand so we should not think about this. Today we could only get to 66 points, so it feels perfect.
"Next week we try at Anfield to get 69 points, and let's carry on. If we do what we have to do, we will be where we want to be."
West Brom manager Tony Pulis: "We are disappointed. I thought we did enough to get a point.
"The goal really knocked us. It took us 20 minutes, in which time they had some good opportunities.
"Chadli had a great chance at the back post, Matty Phillips should have scored one-on-one, Hal should have scored one-on-one - it wasn't all set-pieces.
"The difference between the top teams is the quality they have up front. The players have been fantastic this year, we have an opportunity to play some of the young players now too.
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