Liverpool 0-2 West Brom: McAuley & Lukaku make Reds pay after Gerrard penalty miss

Liverpool’s top-four hopes took a huge blow as they fell to a shock 2-0 defeat to West Brom at Anfield.

After dominating for much of the game, the Reds wasted a chance to score as Steven Gerrard’s penalty was saved by Ben Foster and the Baggies took advantage as Gareth McAuley and Romelu Lukaku struck late on.

Brendan Rodgers was forced into making one change from the XI that took a point away from Manchester City, with Jonjo Shelvey coming in for the injured Daniel Sturridge while for West Brom, Liam Ridgewell and Youssouf Mulumbu returned.

The early stages were far from frenetic but typically, it was Luis Suarez who was the first to threaten with a flashed volley that drifted wide of Foster’s right-hand post before Shelvey stroked home a rebound only for the effort to be ruled out for offside.

The hosts were in control and could have taken the lead when first a free header from Daniel Agger was tipped over the bar before Stewart Downing, an impressive performer throughout, saw a fierce left-footed effort from range sting the hands of Foster.

Opportunities for the out-of-form Baggies to break were few and far between with Agger next to threaten on the half-hour mark, failing to make contact with his head despite having the freedom of the West Brom box.

Steven Reid then came close to an embarrassing own goal when he horribly sliced a drilled Shelvey cross that only just cleared the top of his crossbar as the two sides closed out a poor first-half on level terms.

The second half began in much the same vein as the first ended with Foster making a sprawling blocked save to deny first Downing and then Gerrard from breaking the deadlock. Minutes later, Jordan Henderson’s improvised back-flick finish brought good reactions from the former England goalkeeper.

On the hour, Rodgers reacted by bringing on Fabio Borini and youngster Raheem Sterling as he looked to find more of a cutting edge and with just over 20 minutes on the clock, Borini went close to scoring his first Premier League goal for the Merseysiders but found Foster equal to the effort.

The Baggies again had the former Watford man to thank when he made a superb one-handed save from a drilled Gerrard effort, with the follow-up put wide of the post by the onrushing Borini.

The best was still to come from the shot-stopper when Liverpool were awarded a penalty after Jonas Olsson was adjudged to have felled Suarez when contesting a header. Gerrard stepped up but saw his spot-kick superbly stopped by a diving Foster.

That miss would come back to haunt the home side when first Mulumbu’s daisy-cutting long-range strike was tipped wide by Pepe Reina before from the resulting corner, McAuley thumped in a header off the bar.

Liverpool were stunned and their misery was complete in stoppage time when substitute Lukaku ran through and slotted past Reina.

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