Liverpool 1-1 West Brom: Ajayi stuns Anfield as Allardyce makes his point

Sadio Mane gave Liverpool a deserved early lead against West Brom but Semi Ajayi struck late for the struggling visitors at Anfield.

Semi Ajayi claimed another valuable point for West Brom in their survival fight as his 82nd-minute header snatched a 1-1 draw against Liverpool. 

The centre-back's deflected shot - later credited as a Ruben Dias own goal - helped Albion to earn a share of the spoils at Manchester City earlier this month and his looping effort came off the post before spinning beyond a helpless Alisson at Anfield on Sunday. 

Liverpool were dominant during the first half and should have had more than Sadio Mane's sublime finish to show for their efforts. 

However, nerves set in and, after Joel Matip added to Jurgen Klopp's injury headache at centre-back, an increasingly emboldened West Brom drew level. 

Sam Johnstone saved magnificently to keep out a Roberto Firimino header as Liverpool had to settle for extending their lead at the summit over Everton to three points.

West Brom were obligingly pegged back during the opening stages and Mane made the pressure tell with a fabulous piece of skill in the 12th minute. The Senegal international drifted away from Ajayi to control Matip's floated pass on his chest and steer a finish beyond Johnstone.  

The West Brom goalkeeper's six-yard box was peppered as Mane narrowly failed to find decisive touches to dangerous crosses from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson.  

Darnell Furlong's long throws asked moderate questions of Liverpool early in the second period and they never looked completely secure after Matip pulled up with an apparent groin injury. 

Grady Diangana shanked a volley wide when West Brom created a rare half-chance, while Alisson stood firm after Karlan Grant tore past Matip's replacement Rhys Williams in the 71st minute. 

Liverpool did not heed the warning, however, and a sloppily conceded corner led to Ajayi converting from substitute Matheus Pereira's cross, albeit with a slight touch of fortune. 

Johnstone had excelled himself to thwart Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan in stoppage time in the draw at the Etihad Stadium and Firmino became the keeper's latest victim, the Brazil star having done all he could to produce a dramatic winner.

Liverpool unable to pull away 

A draw between Leicester City and Manchester United before more dropped points for Chelsea on Boxing Day, along with Manchester City's tough trips to Everton and Stamford Bridge on the horizon, meant the festive schedule looked made to measure for Liverpool.  

Klopp's side could still boast a handsome lead at the summit by the time they finish their first game of 2021 at Southampton, but an unpredictable season seems to throw up further twists and turns just when the best teams appear to have settled into a rhythm. 

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