Sadio Mane gives Liverpool the lead over West Bromwich Albion at Anfield
Sadio Mane has scored six Premier League goals in 2020-21

Semi Ajayi scored a dramatic late equaliser against leaders Liverpool to earn struggling West Brom their first point since Sam Allardyce took charge.

Jurgen Klopp’s side looked to be going five points clear at the top of the table when Sadio Mane chested down Joel Matip’s long ball forward to fire past Sam Johnstone.

Liverpool dominated for long periods without adding to their lead but the Baggies improved after the break and equalised in the 83rd minute.

Ajayi leapt high above the home defence to send a header in off the post to spark jubilant celebrations from the away team at Anfield.

West Brom keeper Johnstone made a superb save to deny Roberto Firmino a winner near the end.

Reds frustrated by Baggies

There was a deep sense of frustration at full-time from Liverpool’s players after they dropped league points at Anfield for the first time this season.

Klopp walked to the Kop to acknowledge the 2,000 fans allowed into the ground as the home team headed for the dressing room knowing they had let two points slip.

It has been a monumental 2020 with the Reds ending a 30-year wait for a league title, but this was not the result they wanted in their final home game of 2020.

Klopp’s side dominated the first half, enjoying 84% possession, but were unable to add to a sumptuous finish by Senegal forward Mane.

Their dominance was highlighted by captain Jordan Henderson, who completed 39 more passes (85) than West Brom as a team (46) before half-time.

But the visitors were livelier after the break and, after Liverpool lost defender Joel Matip to injury, the hosts allowed West Brom a way back.

Alisson did well to keep out Karlan Grant after the forward had got the better of Rhys Williams before Ajayi’s equaliser.

Johnstone’s save to keep out Firmino at the end only added to Liverpool’s frustration, their lead at the top now three points.

Battling West Brom show fight

It looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for West Brom when Mane struck early but the Baggies dug deep to return to the Black Country with a crucial point.

This result will give Allardyce, the last opposition manager to win a Premier League game at Anfield, with Crystal Palace in April 2017, huge encouragement as he looks to keep his new team in the Premier League.

A week after being beaten 3-0 at home by Aston Villa in his first game in charge, West Brom refused to go under against the leaders and showed the spirit and character needed in a relegation battle.

Having drawn 1-1 at Manchester City in Slaven Bilic’s final game in charge, the Baggies have now taken points off last season’s top two clubs.

Allardyce, whose side are still five points from safety, will need help when the transfer market opens next month.

But this result against a Liverpool side which had won the previous eight home league games will lift morale ahead of Tuesday’s home game with Leeds.

Liverpool fail to win for a sixth time – the stats

  • Liverpool have failed to win six of their 15 Premier League games this season, as many as they did in the entire 2019-20 season.
  • Having picked up just one point from their opening six away league games this season, West Brom have since earned two from their last two on the road away to Manchester City and Liverpool.
  • This was the first time Liverpool failed to win a Premier League home game against a side starting the day in the relegation zone – despite taking the lead – since a 2-2 draw with Slaven Bilic’s West Ham in December 2016.
  • Among defenders since the start of the 2018-19 season, only Virgil van Dijk and Aaron Pierre (both nine) have scored more headed league goals in England’s top four tiers than West Brom’s Semi Ajayi (eight).
  • Sadio Mane scored his 69th Premier League goal for Liverpool, moving him level with Luis Suárez and behind only Robbie Fowler (128), Steven Gerrard (120), Michael Owen (118) and Mohamed Salah (86) for most goals in the competition for the Reds.

What’s next?

Liverpool’s festive programme continues at Newcastle on Wednesday (20:00 GMT), while West Brom host Leeds United on Tuesday (18:00 GMT).

Player of the match

JohnstoneSam Johnstone

West Bromwich Albion

  1. Squad number1Player nameJohnstone

  2. Squad number6Player nameAjayi

  3. Squad number2Player nameFurlong

  4. Squad number27Player nameO’Shea

  5. Squad number18Player nameGallagher

  6. Squad number11Player nameDiangana

  7. Squad number12Player nameMatheus Pereira

  8. Squad number7Player nameRobinson

  9. Squad number3Player nameGibbs

  10. Squad number10Player namePhillips

  11. Squad number29Player nameGrant

  12. Squad number19Player nameSawyers

  13. Squad number15Player nameAustin

  14. Squad number20Player nameIvanovic

More to follow.

Line-ups

Liverpool

  • 1Alisson
  • 66Alexander-Arnold
  • 32MatipSubstituted forR Williamsat 60′minutes
  • 3Fabinho
  • 26Robertson
  • 17JonesSubstituted forOxlade-Chamberlainat 83′minutes
  • 14Henderson
  • 5Wijnaldum
  • 11Salah
  • 9FirminoSubstituted forOrigiat 90′minutes
  • 10Mané

Substitutes

  • 7Milner
  • 15Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 18Minamino
  • 23Shaqiri
  • 27Origi
  • 46R Williams
  • 47Phillips
  • 62Kelleher
  • 76N Williams

West Brom

  • 1Johnstone
  • 2Furlong
  • 6Ajayi
  • 27O’SheaBooked at 56mins
  • 3Gibbs
  • 7RobinsonSubstituted forCosta Pereiraat 73′minutes
  • 10Phillips
  • 19Sawyers
  • 18GallagherSubstituted forIvanovicat 90+1′minutes
  • 11Diangana
  • 29GrantSubstituted forAustinat 78′minutes

Substitutes

  • 12Costa Pereira
  • 13Grosicki
  • 15Austin
  • 16Harper
  • 17Krovinovic
  • 20Ivanovic
  • 22Peltier
  • 24Kipré
  • 25Button

Referee:
Kevin Friend

Attendance:
2,000

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