A late header by Semi Ajayi earned struggling West Bromwich Albion a surprise 1-1 Premier League draw at champions and leaders Liverpool on Sunday as the defender cancelled out Sadio Mane’s early opener for the home side.

The result left Liverpool on 32 points from 15 games, three ahead of second-placed Everton. West Bromwich stayed 19th on eight points but their spirited fightback will have given new boss Sam Allardyce plenty to cheer about.

December 27, 2020 West Bromwich Albion’s Sam Johnstone makes a save from Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino. Image: Reuters

It also snapped Liverpool’s seven-game winning streak at home as Allardyce, beaten 3-0 by Aston Villa on his debut last Sunday, reinvigorated West Brom’s hopes of avoiding relegation from the top flight.

Liverpool left back Andy Robertson acknowledged Liverpool did not deserve to win after a poor second-half performance.

“When you go slack you get what you deserve,” he told Sky Sports. “When you come up against a Sam Allardyce team you know they will stay in it and take the one chance they get.

“We created chances in the first half and then in the second half it was as if we didn’t want to do it again. Every one of us made a mistake in the second half which can’t happen.

“We will take the point and move on. We can’t dwell on it but it’s a huge disappointment.”

Liverpool laid siege to the Baggies from the off and it was no surprise that Mane netted in the 12th minute when he chested down a deep Joel Matip pass and swept the ball past goalkeeper Sam Johnstone from 10 metres.

Mane came close to adding a second midway through the first half when he headed wide from close range after a Jordan Henderson cross before Mohamed Salah volleyed inches over the bar from the edge of the penalty area.

West Brom came out with more purpose after the break and Karlan Grant had a sitter saved by Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker before Nigerian centre back Ajayi struck in the 82nd minute against the subdued hosts.

Liverpool conceded a sloppy corner and were punished as Matheus Pereira floated in a delightful cross from the right and Ajayi rose above Fabinho to send a looping header into the back of the net off the post.

Roberto Firmino missed a 90th-minute chance to snatch a win for Liverpool as Johnstone somehow clawed out his downward close-range header and turned it around the post.

Reuters | LIVERPOOL, England

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