Divock Origi’s late Liverpool equaliser sets off ugly sideline scenes

Jürgen Klopp had earlier been incensed by tackle that lead to Dejan Lovren injury

 

Liverpool 2 West Brom 2

Beating his chest in front of the West Bromwich Albion dug-out, going eyeball-to-eyeball with Tony Pulis and leading his Liverpool team in triumphant applause in front of the Kop, Jürgen Klopp produced a manic reaction to Divock Origi’s stoppage time equaliser as his team were held to a tense, ugly draw at Anfield. The home supporters revelled in their manager’s wild celebrations but this was an unseemly episode that would not have looked out of place in the Sunday amateur leagues.

The animosity between Klopp and the Albion bench had been building from the moment Dejan Lovren was taken off on a stretcher with a serious-looking knee injury as a consequence of a dreadful challenge from Craig Gardner.

It erupted spectacularly when the Liverpool substitute Origi cancelled out Jonas Olsson’s second-half header with a deflected strike and Klopp danced on the visitors’ misfortune. The Liverpool manager walked away shaking hands with his Albion counterpart before being pulled into one by a visiting coach. An argument then ensued before Klopp led his team in a celebration akin to a title win. Once the blood had cooled, this was another underwhelming result for Liverpool who struggled against set pieces and aggression all afternoon.

Liverpool’s response to the latest visitors to defend deep at Anfield was to mix the intricate work of Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana with the direct approach. The strategy risked gifting possession to Albion’s towering defenders but paid dividends for the opening goal and offered Christian Benteke opportunity to contribute more than he produced at St James’ Park the previous Sunday.

Klopp’s team controlled the early stages. Benteke was denied a free shot on goal by interceptions from Gareth McAuley and Gardner while Coutinho wasted a glorious chance when the Northern Ireland defender miscued a header to the feet of the Brazilian 12 yards out. Albion were just coming into the contest as an attacking force, courtesy of the excellent Darren Fletcher’s influence in central midfield, when Liverpool took a merited lead.

Coutinho played a quick, diagonal cross into the penalty area where Lallana of all people leapt above Chris Brunt to head into the path of the incoming Jordan Henderson. The Liverpool captain marked his first league start since August with a sweeping finish beyond Boaz Myhill from close range. Pulis would have appreciated the style of the breakthrough had he not been on the receiving end.

Albion’s momentum would not be checked, however. Klopp had discussed the danger of Albion’s set pieces at length in his pre-match press conference but identifying them is much easier than stopping them. And even harder to stifle with a goalkeeper as erratic as Simon Mignolet.

James Morrison and Gardner, in for the hamstrung Stéphane Sessègnon, had both served notice of the visitors’ threat before Brunt swept an inviting corner to the back of the Liverpool six-yard area. Mignolet correctly came for the cross but fatally did not collect, waving at thin air as the ball struck Salomón Rondón and Nathaniel Clyne and dropped for Craig Dawson to convert beyond the despairing challenge of James Milner.

The Belgium goalkeeper almost gifted Pulis’s team a second goal when attempting to keep a Dawson cross in play and finding only James McClean. He survived on that occasion and when Albion thought they had taken the lead from another set piece moments before half-time.

Another inch-perfect delivery, this time a free-kick from Gardner, was volleyed into the Kop goal by Olsson. The defender was one of several visiting players in an offside position when Gardner took the kick but no flag appeared from assistant referee Richard West. Instead, he requested a word with referee Craig Pawson and, while Albion players celebrated en masse on the opposite side of the pitch, the goal was rightly but confusingly disallowed. But Olsson would not be denied.

Pawson also called it right when refusing Liverpool’s penalty claims for an accidental handball by McAuley. The second half developed into a bruising, ugly encounter that left Klopp raging at the Albion bench long before Lovren was taken off in agony after a sickening tackle from Gardner.

The midfielder won the ball in a 50-50 with the Croatian defender but followed through with a studs-first challenge that buckled Lovren’s knee.

Liverpool’s central defender was carried off with his knee in a brace and an oxygen mask on his face. Gardner was not even booked.

Klopp’s afternoon had deteriorated a minute earlier when Albion punished Liverpool from a set piece once again. The players involved were the same but the home side were powerless to react. Brunt swept a fine corner to the near post, McAuley and Olsson rose in unison and under little pressure, and the latter found the far corner with a glancing header.

Myhill saved well from Lallana and substitute Jordon Ibe went close as Liverpool pressed for an equaliser and it arrived five minutes into eight minutes of stoppage time. Origi had been summoned from the bench when Lovren departed and Klopp’s boldness was rewarded as the striker took aim from 25 yards and his shot deflected off a defender and sailed beyond the stranded Myhill. Cue bedlam in the technical area.

(Guardian service)

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