Liverpool's Mohamed Salah equals record but West Brom hit back for draw
WEST BROMWICH, England -- Three thoughts as Liverpool threw away a 2-0 lead, despite Mo Salah's 31st Premier League goal, as West Brom hit back for a draw.
1. Salah equals record, but Liverpool lose lead
The PFA Player of the Year prize may come on Sunday, but Saturday ensured it will already be another memorable weekend for the magnificent Mohamed Salah as he reached his latest landmark.
The record for most goals in a 38-game Premier League season -- 31 -- has now been equalled. Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez have company in the shape of the electric Egyptian. A deft chip over Ben Foster, which is almost a trademark finish, puts Salah on course to overhaul that trio as, now up to 41, he chases down Ian Rush's Liverpool record of 47 goals in all competitions.
And yet it was a bittersweet day for Liverpool. They were two goals ahead with 12 minutes remaining and still only drew. It may not cost them a top-four finish, but perhaps it bodes badly for a Champions League meeting with a Roma side who, as Barcelona can testify, can mount comebacks of their own.
In more ways than one, Liverpool minds were on the Champions League. Jurgen Klopp made five changes and, of the back four who will probably face Roma, only Virgil van Dijk started. The workhorse Roberto Firmino also got a rare watching brief for the first 64 minutes, allowing Danny Ings to start and score.
Firmino came off the bench to combine with another substitute, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, to set up Salah to make it 2-0. But if he seemed to have killed off Albion, a side who could still be relegated this weekend had other ideas.
2. Moore gives West Brom the right kind of leadership
Only two managers have overseen Premier League victories over Jose Mourinho's Manchester United at Old Trafford. Pep Guardiola is one. The other, Darren Moore, isn't really a manager at all.
Albion's interim appointment proved his prowess against the managerial elite by pegging back Klopp's side and proving how Albion's spirit has improved his promotion.
The Hawthorns echoed to chants about "Big Dave"-- Moore's nickname -- as West Brom fought back to win a point. He is certain to emerge from this interim spell with reputation enhanced and a place on the backroom staff of Alan Pardew's successor. That replacement is unlikely to be Moore himself, even if he has exceeded all expectations. The feeling is that Pardew would have been sacked earlier had Albion had more confidence in Moore's ability to be the caretaker.
But a former stalwart of their defence has shown the right sort of leadership. Unlike some temporary appointments, he has not been afraid to make a decision.
Moore stuck with the side who beat United. If that was unsurprising, it still meant he kept fit-again captain Jonny Evans on the bench. It showed the right traits for an aspiring manager, displaying loyalty to those who have done well for him and refusing to parachute big names back into his side.
But Moore also showed some invention when he brought Evans on, switching to three at the back in a way that helped his side conjure a fine comeback.
Albion got a goal from a corner last week and bettered that feat as they struck twice against Liverpool at set-pieces. Following Chris Brunt's delivery, Jake Livermore finished from close range after Dawson had a shot blocked.
Then, two minutes after Loris Karius made a fine save to deny Salomon Rondon an equaliser, he was unable to prevent the Venezuelan from levelling with a header from Brunt's free kick. It was another feather in Moore's cap.
Albion have faced Liverpool three times this season and lost none, even if the irony is their only win came under Pardew.
3. Ings ends his long wait
The last time Ings found the net was in 2015, when Brendan Rodgers was Liverpool's manager, Firmino had never struck for his new club and neither Sadio Mane nor Salah had joined.
Much has changed in the subsequent 930 days and Ings has been a spectator for most of it, cruciate knee injuries keeping him out. Perhaps his luck changed: he owed his place both to the proximity of the Roma game and to Liverpool's decision to loan Daniel Sturridge to Albion in January (he was ineligible to face his parent club.)
Circumstances may have conspired against Ings. Now they worked in his favour.
In the third minute, he showed the predatory streak he used to display for Burnley with a sharp finish after Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum combined. It was the highlight of an energetic display, but he could have had a second. Ben Foster made a sharp stop after Salah set up Ings.
A lovely cross-field ball for Trent Alexander-Arnold illustrated that he can play a part in the build-up play too and he was denied a penalty when Craig Dawson tripped him -- then further irritated when referee Stuart Attwell missed a little punch to his ribs from Ahmed Hegazi.
Firmino has been indispensable for Liverpool this season, and not merely because he has struck 25 times, but they did not miss the benched Brazilian. Ings brings some of the same characteristics -- relentless movement, a willingness to press -- if not the same quality or a similar goal scoring return.
Nevertheless, the forward requires a reliable deputy and, if Liverpool do not enter the transfer market for a striker this summer, this performance helped suggest Ings, rather than Sturridge, the exiled Divock Origi or the perennial substitute Dominic Solanke, may be the best candidate.
Richard Jolly covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Twitter: @RichJolly.