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Ben Foster included a Steven Gerrard penalty among a string of saves that laid the platform for West Bromwich Albion to record their first win in the Barclays Premier League since Boxing Day.
The former England goalkeeper denied the Liverpool captain twice, once from the spot, Jordan Henderson, Daniel Agger, Stewart Downing and Fabio Borini. And when Gareth McAuley headed home West Brom's first effort on target in the 81st minute it set up their first league double over the Reds - having won 3-0 on the opening day of the season - since 1966-67, with substitute Romelu Lukaku's 90th-minute striking giving the scoreline an unbalanced look.
All the promise of performances in draws against Arsenal and Manchester City was wiped away as Liverpool suffered their first home defeat since mid-December. West Brom had not won any of their previous 18 top-flight away matches on Monday, a run stretching back 44 years to March 1969.
However, they appeared more than comfortable in a disappointing first half in which both teams managed two shots on target between them. Both of those were registered by the hosts as West Brom were not intent on showing much adventure but with Liverpool not clicking into any sort of gear they were not in much danger either.
With Daniel Sturridge's thigh problem not being risked Liverpool were shorn of the pacy, incisive running which caused the Barclays Premier League champions so many problems in the 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium eight days earlier.
Jonjo Shelvey, Sturridge’s replacement, was given his first league appearance since Boxing Day, playing in the hole as Luis Suarez was restored to the out-and-out striker role but the pair failed to gel in the way Sturridge has. The 20-year-old did put the ball in the net early on but was offside, which sort of set the tone for the half which was briefly enlivened by Suarez producing a brilliant behind-the-leg cross.
Agger had a header tipped over by Foster, who also caught Stewart Downing's stinging drive at the second attempt. The closest Liverpool actually came to scoring in the first half was when Steven Reid's attempted left-footed clearance of Shelvey's low cross cannoned off his standing leg and looped over the crossbar from four yards.
A lack of fluidity and crispness was noticeably absent in Liverpool's passing game as West Brom harried and hassled and tried to stifle as much of their opponents' movement as possible. Every pass from the hosts seemed half-a-yard too short or long and their control of the ball wasteful.
Improvements were made by Brendan Rodgers for the second half as Downing had a shot blocked and Gerrard's follow-up was crowded out before Henderson's cheeky close-range backheel from Glen Johnson's pass was stopped by Foster. With an hour gone more work was required and Raheem Sterling and Borini were sent on for the Shelvey and Henderson.
Borini was denied by a fully stretched West Brom goalkeeper after lashing Downing's lay-off goalwards, McAuley slid in to block Suarez's shot and the wrong-footed Foster stuck out a hand to stop Gerrard's drive.
The goalkeeper stopped the same player from the spot with 13 minutes remaining after Suarez was fouled by Jonas Olsson. Foster dived to his left to save Gerrard’s placed kick.
Having dominated proceedings Liverpool were hit with the sucker punch nine minutes from time. Chris Brunt swung over a right-wing corner and McAuley had a free run in the area to power home a header. Liverpool went chasing the game and were exposed even later on when Lukaku, having been dropped to the bench, stroked home their second.
Having picked up just one point from a possible 18 the victory was vital in halting West Brom’s slide down the table. It also extended Liverpool's unwanted record of still not having beaten a team in the top half of the Premier League this season as they saw West Brom leapfrog them into eighth.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: "The players gave everything. It was one of them games we couldn't get the break through. The longer it goes on it gives the opposition more encouragement. It was one of them games when we needed that first goal.
"We were on the front foot but it's a good away performance from West Brom. You come here, defend and as long as you can keep the score 0-0 you have always got that chance. I'm disappointed for the players. We have been on a terrific run especially at home, we have defended well throughout the season here."
West Brom head coach Steve Clarke: "For a change something went right and it was good to come here and play well. It's a terrific win for us. Since the turn of the year things haven't gone our way.
“Some of the performances have been decent, but to come here to play a Liverpool team playing as well as they have all season and to get that kind of result and with that level of performance - I'm delighted. They put so much effort into every game they play and to get that reward is really great for them.
"The players realised at 0-0, and with Ben saving the penalty, that we could go on and win the game. It gave us a bit of positive momentum again. We have always been one result from kickstarting our season and hopefully that came tonight, and hopefully we can kick on and chase the teams above us."
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|05 May 2013||v Everton (H)|