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.
West Brom vs Liverpool player ratings
West Brom vs Liverpool player ratings
1/22 Ben Foster - 6 out of 10
Caught out of possession for the Liverpool goal. Largely reliable for the rest of the game. Showed his audacity in stoppage time by heading forward as West Brom chased an equaliser.
2/22 Craig Dawson - 6 out of 10
Solid all-rounded defensive display.
3/22 Gareth McAuley - 6
Held his shape well alongside Evans but struggled at times to keep Firmino under wraps.
4/22 Jonny Evans - 5
Guilty of a number of reckless fouls that heaped unnecessary pressure on his own side.
5/22 Chris Brunt - 6
His foul on Origi handed Liverpool the free-kick from which Firmino scored. A foolish and reckless decision which tainted an overwise solid performance.
6/22 Jake Livermore - 6
Another West Brom player who was a bit too liberal in his challenges.
7/22 Claudio Yacob - 5
Drifted in and out of the game. Resilient and stubborn though.
8/22 Darren Fletcher - 6
Never stopped running to his credit but was unable to properly influence the game.
9/22 Matt Phillips - 6
A nuisance early on but faded away.
10/22 Hal Robson-Kanu - 6
Did his best to keep the Liverpool defence on their toes with his running and movement. Missed a huge opportunity to equalise late on in the game though. Not clinal enough.
11/22 Nacer Chadli - 5
Started brightly with a number of testing deliveries into the box but drifted out of the game as it wore on. Missed an absolute sitter from three yards out in the first half.
12/22 Simon Mignolet - 7
A relatively quiet game for him. Asserted himself well under West Brom's set-piece balls. Called upon 10 minutes before the final whistle to deny West Brom an equaliser with fantastic one-on-one save.
13/22 Nathaniel Clyne - 6
Got well forward and proved to be a nuisance for the home side defence.
14/22 Dejan Lovren - 6
Not his most rounded of performances. A number of sloppy passes let him down throughout the game.
15/22 Joel Matip - 7
Had the chance to double Liverpool's lead with a close-range headed but fluffed his lines. Enjoyed his battles at the back with Hobson-kanu.
16/22 James Milner - 6
Deliveries were very hit and miss today. Grew into the game though.
17/22 Georginio Wijnaldum - 6
Stuck to the basics as he kept Liverpool's midfield ticking over.
18/22 Lucas - 6
Saw plenty of the ball and although a number of mistakes let him down on occasion, it was a solid afternoon of football for him.
19/22 Emre Can - 8
Industrious and aggressive all game long. Fought hard in his battles and played a crucial role in breaking up play.
20/22 Firmino - 7
Took his goal well, demonstrating his abiltiy to read the game. Kept the West Brom defence busy all game.
21/22 Divock Origi - 7
Threatened with his weaving runs and won his side a number of free-kicks in dangerous areas. Quiet first half but proved to be a valuable asset.
22/22 Philippe Coutinho - 8
The main thrust and drive of Liverpool's forward game. Created a number of chances for his team-mates and dazzled himself with his quick feet.
“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.
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.”Reuse content