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.