The Reds dominated the contest but were thwarted throughout by an inspired performance from visiting goalkeeper, Ben Foster.
Steven Gerrard had Liverpool’s best chance with 13 minutes left, but his penalty was repelled by the West Brom stopper.
The visitors then stunned Anfield when Gareth McAuley headed in a late opener before substitute Romelu Lukaku sealed a win for the Baggies in stoppage time.
The pregame team news confirmed a 200th Liverpool appearance for Lucas Leiva, while Glen Johnson notched up a century of league games for the club.
Meanwhile, Philippe Coutinho was named on the bench and Jonjo Shelvey replaced the injured Daniel Sturridge in the starting XI.
Liverpool took to the field sporting a different logo on their jerseys, with the name of Standard Chartered being replaced by ‘Seeing is Believing’ — LFC’s main sponsor’s official charity that aims to tackle avoidable blindness in developing countries.
The Reds had plundered 12 goals without reply in their previous three Anfield outings, but they had to wait to get into their stride this time around.
Shelvey did have the ball in the back of the net after nine minutes, but the midfielder was in an offside position when visiting goalkeeper Foster parried Johnson’s stinging volley into his path.
Liverpool’s pressure continued to build and the Baggies’ No. 1 was required to tip over a Daniel Agger glance midway through the period. Earlier, Luis Suarez‘s outrageous rabona flick from the touchline into the six-yard box had Anfield purring, but no-one could convert.
Next, Stewart Downing cut in from the right and stung the palms of Foster from fully 30 yards before an inviting center from the winger narrowly evaded the forehead of the unmarked Agger.
Still, the hosts weren’t attacking with the same verve and fluidity that had so successfully put Fulham, Sunderland and Norwich to the sword as West Brom remained stubborn.
However, visiting hearts were in mouths four minutes before the break when Steven Reid kicked Shelvey’s low cross against his standing leg and the ball looped agonizingly onto the roof of the net as the teams went into the dressing rooms level at the interval.
Liverpool re-emerged with renewed purpose and after Foster had thwarted Gerrard at point-blank range, the custodian got a foot to Jordan Henderson‘s back-heel from Johnson’s delivery. Shelvey then guided Jamie Carragher‘s header at a corner wide of the far post as the hosts built momentum.
But with a goal still continuing to elude the hosts, Rodgers sent on Raheem Sterling and Fabio Borini in place of Henderson and Shelvey on the hour mark.
Borini went close to making an impact almost immediately, but his strike was plucked out of the air by Foster following a flowing Liverpool move.
West Brom’s ‘keeper then pulled off another stunning save when he got a strong hand to Gerrard’s swerving blast from just inside the box as the game entered its final stages.
Foster was to leave Gerrard further frustrated in the 77th minute when he denied the Liverpool captain from the penalty spot after Suarez had been shoved over inside the box by Jonas Olsson.
Indeed, the Baggies had barely threatened all evening, but they took a late lead when McAuley stole in unmarked at a corner to head in and leave the home players and crowd stunned.
Then, in stoppage time, Lukaku came off the bench to secure all three points with a neat finish, consigning Liverpool to defeat.
Liverpoolfc.com journalists’ man of the match: Stewart Downing
Photo via Liverpoolfc.com
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