Toure blunder gifts West Brom equaliser
Liverpool frustrated in trying to strengthen their grip on fourth place in the Premier League and have to settle for a 1-1 draw
Agence France-Presse in London
A mistake by Kolo Toure prevented Liverpool from strengthening their grip on fourth place in the Premier League as they were held to a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Liverpool were seeking to move four points clear of fifth-place Everton and they took the lead through Daniel Sturridge at The Hawthorns, only for Toure to gift West Brom a 67th-minute equaliser by passing the ball straight to Victor Anichebe who had just come off the bench.
The Nigerian striker accepted the gift to level the scores, leaving Liverpool with only a two-point cushion in fourth place.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers refused to criticise Toure, saying: "He is a wonderful player. He probably should not have received the ball in the first place. I will never criticise any player, especially a defender. We have won many games and played outstanding football, and key to that is constructing from the back."
Rodgers' side enjoyed the bulk of the possession early on but it was Albion who carved out the first chance when Youssouf Mulumbu struck a low angled shot from 18 yards that was blocked by Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.
However, Liverpool seized control of the contest with the opening goal in the 24th minute as strike partners Luis Suarez and Sturridge combined to devastating effect. Raheem Sterling's pass found Suarez inside the penalty area and the Uruguay international jinked his way through the hosts' defence before crossing for Sturridge, who was left with a simple tap-in at the back post.
The West Brom players appealed to referee Kevin Friend for offside but television replays suggested Jones was level with Sturridge when Suarez crossed.
West Brom were dealt a blow in the 41st minute when defender Jonas Olsson limped off injured.
Pepe Mel's side continued to show positive intent immediately after half-time and Jon Flanagan had to make a last-ditch block to deny Chris Brunt after he got on the end of a Mulumbu cross.
Simon Mignolet made his first significant save from the resulting corner when he showed razor-sharp reflexes to beat away a powerful header from McAuley.
Liverpool were punished for their profligacy in the 67th minute after Toure's mistake allowed Albion to equalise.
The Ivorian passed the ball across the edge of the penalty area and Anichebe was alert enough to intercept before emphatically striking a low shot past Mignolet and into the bottom-left corner of the net.
Both sides pressed for a winner in the remainder of the contest, with Albion appearing the more likely of the two teams to snatch it, but neither team managed to land a knockout blow.