WEST BROMWICH, England (AP) — Liverpool missed a chance to strengthen its place in the Premier League's top four on Sunday when Kolo Toure gifted West Bromwich Albion an equalizer in a 1-1 draw.
Liverpool took the lead against the run of play when Luis Suarez set up Daniel Sturridge to poke the ball into the net in the 24th minute. But the winning position was thrown away in the 67th when Toure's slack cross-field clearance went straight to Victor Anichebe, who leveled with a low shot from a central position.
"Sometimes in the past I might have switched off," Anichebe said. "But today I was ready, especially against Liverpool. I was there and I finished it." The draw pushed West Brom a point clear of the relegation zone.
Liverpool is fourth, three points behind Chelsea, which is at leader Manchester City on Monday. Sturridge's 50th career league goal — and his 24th in 30 games for Liverpool — in a disjointed first-half performance had put his team on course to retain a four-point cushion over Everton.
But the draw will gave more ammunition to the critics who felt Liverpool should have strengthened in the transfer window to enhance its bid to regain Champions League football. But it was not the absence of Ukraine winger Yehven Konoplyanka, whose proposed move to Anfield broke down in final hours of the January transfer window, which ultimately cost them points but a lack of resources at the back.
Toure is only playing because Daniel Agger and Mamadou Sakho are injured, but manager Brendan Rodgers insisted defensive reinforcements were not his priority. What Liverpool really need is to keep Luis Suarez and Sturridge fit and scoring — as they did in a 4-0 rout of Everton in the Merseyside derby on Tuesday.
But the duo didn't make an impact at West Brom beyond the combination that produced the first-half goal.