Jurgen Klopp celebrates 'three very important points' as Liverpool close in on Champions League place

The Liverpool manager admitted that this was an “absolutely” huge victory for the Merseysiders as they close in on securing a return to the Champions League

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The Independent Football

If his clenched-fist celebrations on the Hawthorns pitch had told their own story, Jürgen Klopp reiterated the significance of Liverpool’s hard-fought victory over West Bromwich Albion on Sunday lunchtime as he celebrated “three very important points” in their pursuit of Champions League qualification.

The Liverpool manager admitted that this was an “absolutely” huge victory for the Merseysiders as they close in on securing a return to the Champions League following a two-year absence.

Their rivals might have hoped to see Liverpool stumble at a ground where they had not tasted Premier League victory since 2011 but instead Klopp was able to hail their “concentration” levels in avoiding a banana skin with a 1-0 victory courtesy of Roberto Firmino’s headed goal in first-half stoppage time.

“It’s absolutely [huge],” he said after seeing his team climb back above Manchester City into third place. “It’s one of the most difficult places to go to because you cannot feel comfortable in any moment.

“It is a difficult place to come so it makes us more happy actually. It is really three very important points at a difficult place and that has improved our base for the rest of the season. I am happy with this and let’s carry on.”

On paper at least, this was the toughest remaining fixture for a Liverpool side who face Crystal Palace, Watford, Southampton, West Ham and Middlesbrough in their last five games. Klopp added: “It is not only set-pieces with West Brom, they have really good footballers on the pitch and if you are a little bit less aggressive immediately they [start to] play.

“You need the highest concentration level but we’ve had that The first half we didn’t play too well, the second half was much better. We kept the ball well in the first half and didn’t let them really get into the game and in the second half were much better after the goal. It was very important we showed this concentration level until the end. It didn’t work [that way] each week in the last few months but today it was really good and I’m happy about it.”

If there were no lapses in concentration from a defence that has been questioned regularly this season, there was particular praise for goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. As in last weekend’s win at Stoke City, the Belgian made a pivotal save – foiling Matt Phillips in a one-on-one with ten minutes remaining – and also stood tall in the face of a late aerial barrage by Albion.


Firmino scored the only goal of the game (Getty)

Klopp said: “He was really present around the set-pieces, with three or four or five fists [punches]. He was really good, I have to say, really lively, and very important again.”

His Albion counterpart, Tony Pulis, was less pleased with his own goalkeeper, Ben Foster, following two charges upfield for stoppage-time corners in the Liverpool box. After the first, Liverpool substitute Alberto Moreno should have scored into an empty net but rolled a shot wide from 40 yards. “I’ve just had a chat with him,” said Pulis. “I don’t like keepers going up for corners personally but I’ve never said it to Ben so he didn’t know. He does now!”

This was a third-straight loss for eighth-placed Albion – and fourth game without a goal. Pulis added:  “We’ve had the opportunities again and especially against the top teams you have to take your chances. We’ve had three really good opportunities where I would have expected them to score but you can’t criticise them.”