West Bromwich Albion completed a stunning Premier League double over Liverpool on Monday with a 2-0 win at Anfield after Steven Gerrard missed a chance to put the home side ahead with a second-half penalty.
Gareth McAuley headed home in the 80th minute, with what was only the Baggies’ second attempt on goal in a lopsided game, to break the deadlock and substitute Romelu Lukaku doubled the tally 10 minutes later.
The victory marked a dream return to Anfield for Steve Clarke, the former Liverpool assistant coach under Kenny Dalglish, after his side had beaten the Reds 3-0 in the opening game of the season at The Hawthorns.
“We played well. It’s a terrific win for us,” the West Brom manager told Sky Sports television on a night that ended a run of six games without a victory with the club’s first win of a difficult year.
It was their first league double over Liverpool since 1966-1967 and also West Brom’s first back-to-back win at Anfield — they also won there last season — since 1936-1937 and 1937-1938.
“Since the turn of the year, things haven’t gone our way. To come here and play a Liverpool team, probably playing as well as they have all season, I’m absolutely delighted for the players,” Clarke said.
The visitors leapfrogged Liverpool to take eighth place on 37 points, behind Swansea City on goal-difference. Liverpool have 36.
Goalkeeper Ben Foster was the hero of the evening, saving Gerrard’s 76th-minute spot-kick after Luis Suarez went down under a challenge from Jonas Olsson.
“When it was given I thought it was harsh and having spoken to a few people, I think harsh is a more than fair description,” Clarke said of the referee’s decision. “You get the luck, but it’s not luck because Ben Foster is a great goalkeeper ... the penalty save was crucial, and I think it gave us a little bit of positive momentum to go on and do what we did in the last 15 minutes.”
Foster also denied Gerrard in the 50th minute when he smothered a close-range effort by the Liverpool captain and 20 minutes later when he kept the ball out of the net with a superb one-handed reflex save.
The visitors had never threatened in a muted first half, while Liverpool had Jonjo Shelvey clearly offside after he had the ball in the net in the eighth minute and Luis Suarez was refused a penalty claim.
“I thought we were always on the front foot, looking to get the goal,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said.
“Their ’keeper’s made some outstanding saves and obviously we then conceded at the other end ... bitterly disappointing,” he said.
Liverpool missed the pace of the injured Daniel Sturridge up front, while West Brom managed well enough without striker Peter Odemwingie.
The West Brom forward was an isolated figure, seen texting in the stands after failing to make the bench following his much-derided attempt to join Queens Park Rangers in the transfer window last month.