Liverpool passed a tough test against West Brom on Sunday night to continue their push for UEFA Champions League qualification
West Brom were resolute just like they have been at home all season and the Reds had to battle to take the lead, which eventually came through a Roberto Firmino header in the stoppage time of the first half.
Liverpool had to be patient in attack but were also threatened several times by Tony Pulis’ side, who will rue the fact that they did not take their chances when given the opportunity. Simon Mignolet was only really tested once but West Brom’s lack of a cutting edge in front of goal was the only reason for that.
We take a look at the key talking points from the match.
Firmino the man of the moment again
Roberto Firmino scored the winning goal for Liverpool for the second week running and he has cemented his reputation as one of Liverpool’s most important players over the last few weeks thanks to his fine performances.
The Brazilian did not get off to the best of starts to his career in England an despite the fact that he was initially deployed as a winger, Firmino has grown into his roles as both a striker as well as when he is played in positions across the frontline.
After his match-winning goal against Stoke last weekend, Firmino repeated the feat against West Brom with a calmly taken opportunistic header and was Liverpool’s best player on the pitch, constantly surging forward with darting runs and creating chances for his teammates.
Roberto Firmino game by numbers v West Brom:
100% tackles won
5 chances created
2 aerial duels won
Never stops 🏃 pic.twitter.com/gvkIxK52m7
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 16, 2017
Liverpool grind out a win at last
Liverpool have not been able to see out games in which there are not too many chances created and against opposition that is resilient at the back so last night will have been an encouraging sign for Jurgen Klopp.
The German recently spoke about how Liverpool had to learn how to win ugly and that is exactly what they did against West Brom. The Reds relied on a more defensive outlook for the game and it worked a treat, with Klopp’s side picking up a hugely important 3 points at the end of 90 minutes.
#TheClub Big win for Liverpool today, this is the only way to make Champions League, you have to win ugly sometimes.
— Tuklin Okororie (@TuklinO) April 16, 2017
Simon Mignolet steps up again
After a great performance against Stoke City, Simon Mignolet was there when called upon yet again against West Brom on Saturday night. West Brom actually had the better share of chances but some fine goalkeeping from Mignolet kept them at bay.
In the 79th minute, Matt Phillips was clean through on goal and it looked for all the world like Liverpool would concede a late goal again but the Belgian stayed big and pulled off a crucial save to preserve the Reds’ lead.
Mignolet has been criticised for the most part since his move to Liverpool and was only recalled to the first team after Loris Karius suffered a similar treatment after some high-profile errors but he has silenced several critics over the last few weeks, and Klopp will be hoping he can keep up his current performances for the run in.
Mignolet’s attitude is phenomenal. Could have easily sulked when Karius was making errors – instead he kept his head down and is now a hero.
— ㅤ (@Koloholic) April 16, 2017
Liverpool deal with set pieces well, for a change
Liverpool have been susceptible from set pieces all season and coming up against a West Brom side that has excelled from dead ball situations – especially with Tony Pulis at the helm – Klopp’s side needed to be at their defensive best in order to ensure they did not concede cheap goals.
The Reds trained for set pieces all week in preparation for the game and it paid off handsomely. Liverpool defended corners and balls into the box admirably and ironically enough, their winner came from a set piece as well.
If Liverpool score from a set piece today I’ll dedicate my account to Tony Pulis for a week. Not happening
— Josh (@LFCJosh23) April 16, 2017
Reds ready for the final push
Liverpool have played 33 games and amassed 66 points, with 4th-placed Manchester City on 64 points having played one game less and 5th-placed United on 62, having played 2 games fewer than the Reds.
Klopp’s side have showed over the last two fixtures that they are willing to dig deep and do anything it takes for a victory and with just 5 games left to play, it is likely they will have to win every single game in order to qualify for the Champions League.
Thankfully for Klopp, the signs are encouraging and Liverpool look like their have developed a steely determination at just the right time. If all goes to plan, it looks like we will see Liverpool make a return to Europe’s elite competition next season.