Liverpool stepped toward the edge of territory it didn’t want to enter but managed to turn away just before the moment of truth.
The Reds played West Brom to a 2-2 Premier League draw on Sunday at Anfield. Goals from West Brom defenders Craig Dawson and Jonas Olsson overturned the lead Jordan Henderson had given Liverpool after 21 minutes, but Divock Origi scored in second-half stoppage time to claim a point for the hosts.
Having rebounded from last weekend’s loss to Newcastle, Liverpool now sits ninth in the Premier League standings with 24 points after 16 games. West Brom is 13th in the division with 20 points after 16 games.
Liverpool dominated in open play, but its lack of cutting edge and West Brom’s opportunism produced a dramatic stalemate.
West Brom appeared to be playing with expected defensive resilience until Henderson broke through the back line with a marauding run from midfield. Henderson arrived into the penalty area in time to sweep Adam Lallana’s knock-down header home.
Having recently returned from a long-term foot problem, Henderson marked his first Premier League start since August with his first goal of the season.
However, Liverpool held its lead for just nine minutes. Simon Mignolet’s failure to punch a corner kick out of danger led to a scramble in his penalty area, and the ball fell kindly to Dawson, who slotted his shot through traffic into the goal.
West Brom appeared to have taken the lead on the stroke of halftime when Olsson scored, but the referee’s assistant ruled the Baggies defender offside.
Liverpool remained in control in the second half, but West Brom went ahead in the 73rd minute. Through sheer desire, Olsson headed Chris Brunt’s corner kick past Mignolet from inside the goal mouth.
West Brom looked like it would claim all the points by scoring on both its shots on goal.
But Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp profited from the gamble Dejan Lovren’s injury forced him to take. Klopp replaced Lovren with Origi for the closing stages, and the 20-year-old striker scored his first Premier League goal with a deflected shot from long range six minutes into added time.
Why the outcome?
Klopp in his pregame press conference Friday pointed to West Brom’s set-piece prowess as a potential source of danger. The Reds knew Tony Pulis’ team would threaten on dead-ball situations, but their costly mistakes at the most inopportune times nearly undid them.
The glut of games the Reds have played in recent weeks appears to have drained some sharpness from their attacking players. Christian Benteke struggled to connect with attacking midfielders Lallana and Philippe Coutinho, causing Liverpool to muster most of its shots from outside West Brom’s penalty area. Liverpool didn’t aim well, either.
West Brom did what it came to Anfield to do. Liverpool did some of what it wanted to but not enough for a victory.
Origi’s goal saved a point at a moment in which all looked lost for Liverpool.
Klopp has backed Mignolet publicly in recent weeks, and Liverpool reportedly is in talks with the Belgian over a new contract.
But the error Mignolet made in the lead-up to Dawson’s goal will embolden those who question his long-term suitability as the Reds’ No. 1.
Liverpool visits Watford next Sunday in the Premier League. Watford has won three consecutive games and sits seventh in the standings.
Thumbnail photo via Jon Super/The Associated Press