Liverpool dropped points for the second week in succession, needing a late Divock Origi goal to get a 2-2 draw against West Brom.
The Belgium striker, only on the field because of a potentially serious injury to Dejan Lovren from Craig Gardner’s knee-high tackle, fired in from distance with the aid of a deflection in the sixth of eight additional minutes.
Manager Jurgen Klopp had previously been critical of the fans leaving early because of lack of faith in the team’s ability to recover losing positions but not on this occasion.
The German turned around to the Main Stand and vigorously pumped the air before, at the final whistle, gathering all his players together and walking towards the Kop hand-in-hand in a gesture of thanks.
Origi’s goal secured only a point but it felt like more than that considering what had gone before.
Despite taking an early lead through Jordan Henderson’s first goal since April 4 they were undone by two set-pieces – a long-term Achilles heel – as goalkeeper Simon Mignolet’s blunder allowed Craig Dawson to equalise before Jonas Olsson nodded in a second.
Klopp’s side thought they escaped on the stroke of half-time when an Olsson goal was ruled out for offside, after considerable confusion created by the officials, only for the defender to net the winner 17 minutes from time – which added to the Gardner tackle did not add up to a great day for referee Craig Pawson and his officials.
At least Klopp’s decision to leave out Lucas Leiva in order for Henderson to make his first league start since August 17 paid off with a well-worked goal midway through the first half.
Philippe Coutinho, who should have opened the scoring early on after returning to the starting line-up for the first time in six matches after a hamstring problem, floated over a left-to-right cross which Adam Lallana headed down for his captain to sweep home.
Liverpool had utilised the diagonal ball regularly but it was usually aimed at Christian Benteke without much success; the closest the Belgium international came to scoring was when he shot wide on the turn after chesting down Alberto Moreno’s pass.
The big striker had actually been more effective at the other end defending set-pieces but his usefulness was cancelled out for West Brom’s equaliser when Mignolet pushed his compatriot out of the way as he came to claim Chris Brunt’s corner, missed the ball and saw Dawson ram home the loose ball.
Mignolet’s decision-making did not improve when he chased a wayward Gardner cross out to the touchline, preventing it going out for a throw-in but almost being caught in possession by James Morrison.
Added time brought the most contentious moment of the game when assistant referee Roger West, who had already been on the receiving end of criticism from Klopp for failing to even make a decision when the ball went out for what the German felt was a throw for his side, did not flag despite three players appearing to be offside when Olsson scored.
Several seconds of confusion followed with even Liverpool’s players unsure what to do next before there was clearly some intervention transmitted via the officials’ earpieces as Pawson walked over to his linesman, who only raised his flag after the official had blown his whistle to rule out the goal.
Klopp just laughed but Baggies boss Tony Pulis was furious.
Olsson finally got his goal, nodding in Brunt’s near-post corner, in the 73rd minute before Pawson missed Gardner’s reckless tackle on Lovren which left the Croatian screaming in pain with a gashed knee and potentially worse damage.
Emre Can dropped into central defence to allow Origi to come on and, after Lallana had shot straight at Boaz Myhill, Origi capitalised on the lengthy injury time with a rasping, deflected drive.