The Herald - Sport - - FOOTBALL -

James Mil­ner’s sec­ond-half penalty se­cured a first home league win for Liver­pool man­ager Jur­gen Klopp as they edged past Swansea 1-0.

Mil­ner, who scored from the spot in the mid­week Europa League win over Bordeaux, fired home in the 62nd-minute to end the wait for an An­field Premier League win which stretched back to Septem­ber 26.

It was cer­tainly not the “heavy metal” foot­ball Klopp favours, but some­times just get­ting over the line brings its own re­wards and oc­ca­sion­ally win­ning ugly is no bad thing – es­pe­cially when such oc­cur­rences have been so rare at home this sea­son. Vic­tory took the Reds to within four points of a Cham­pi­ons League spot and six be­hind lead­ers Manch­ester City.

The only real op­por­tu­nity came af­ter six min­utes when Jor­don Ibe’s heavy touch af­ter break­ing clear on the right gave Kyle Bartley enough of a chance to put in a slid­ing chal­lenge – al­though the cen­tre­back could only watch and thank his lucky stars as his tackle di­verted the ball onto a post and not past Lukasz Fabi­an­ski.

Bartley, who had a run­ning bat­tle with Chris­tian Ben­teke all af­ter­noon, also pro­duced a good block to stop Adam Lal­lana’s goal­bound shot.

Things im­proved slightly af­ter the break with Ibe forc­ing Fabi­an­ski into a low save – the first of the match by either keeper – at his near post.

The break­through came just past the hour when Ibe’s cross hit Neil Tay­lor’s arm, raised above his head, and de­spite an ini­tial de­lay from ref­eree An­thony Tay­lor the lines­man flagged for the in­fringe­ment.

Mil­ner dis­patched the penalty high into the roof of the Kop end goal and An­field let out a col­lec­tive sigh of relief.

Slaven Bilic ad­mit­ted West Ham’s waste­ful fin­ish­ing cost them as they were pegged back by Rickie Lam­bert in a 1-1 draw against West Brom.

The Hammers led through Mauro Zarate’s su­perb first-half free-kick and had plenty of chances to ex­tend their lead. But Cheikhou Kouy­ate, Vic­tor Moses and Di­afra Sakho missed de­cent op­por­tu­ni­ties while Boaz My­hill made two fine saves to deny Manuel Lanzini.

And they were made to pay five min­utes af­ter the in­ter­val when half­time sub­sti­tute Lam­bert’s shot was de­flected in by Win­ston Reid to earn the vis­i­tors a point.

“It’s a fair re­sult over 90 min­utes, they de­served some­thing from the sec­ond half – but in the first half we should have been more than 1-0 up,” said Up­ton Park boss Bilic.

“Af­ter the goal un­til the end of the first half we cre­ated three or four chances, and their keeper made some great saves.

“At half-time we were pleased with the way we had played. But by four o’clock I was not pleased with the re­sult.”

Bilic’s prob­lems in front of goal were com­pounded when striker Sakho limped off with a thigh in­jury.

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