West Bromwich Albion completed their first league double over Liverpool since 1967 to enhance their hopes of a top half finish and all but extinguish The Reds' Champions League qualification hopes at Anfield.

Former Liverpool coach Steve Clarke, who spent 18 months on Merseyside, masterminded the archetypal away performance, soaking up ample pressure from the hosts, which included a penalty save by Ben Foster from skipper Steven Gerrard, before striking twice on the break.

After Pepe Reina saved well from Youssouf Mulumbu, the resulting corner saw Gareth McAuley escape Daniel Agger, and head into the roof of the net, and in the final minute, Romelu Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, exposed the Dane's positioning once again, to net his 10th league goal of the season.

Gareth McAuley
McAuley headed home the opening on 81 minutes.

The double sucker punch worked as a climax to a game dominated from the outset by a Liverpool side who had won four of their last five home league games, and recorded impressive away draws against Arsenal and champions Manchester City, raising expectations of late run for the top four.

But those ambitions have been tempered, with 12 points now separating them from fourth place Tottenham Hotspur, after a display which while their Midlands opponents were entrenched in their own half for long periods, exposed Liverpool's inability to break down a back-four led by Jonas Olsson, and brilliant goalkeeper Foster.

The former England international stopper provided a reminder as to his quality as he twice denied Gerrard, first from a fearsome left-foot strike from 16 yards, after seemingly diving in the opposite direction, before a smart stop from the Reds captain's spot kick sparked a late Albion salvo.

Referee Jonathan Moss awarded the home side a second half penalty when Olsson appeared to collide with Luis Suarez after Jose Enrique's cross. Justice was seemingly done after the harsh award, with Foster saving from Gerrard low down to his left.

After losing five of the last six, the save was just the break West Brom required to break a sequence of six without a win and secure a first away league victory since December.

Chris Brunt's inswinging corner found the run of McAuley, who jostled for position after darting away from Agger, to net his second goal of the season with nine minutes left.

And Lukaku secured the points, after Brunt's pass, as the Belgian slalomed past Agger and tucked the ball below Reina to help Clarke's side leapfrog Liverpool in the Premier League and confirm the club's first league win of 2013.

Steven Gerrard
Gerrard's penalty miss swung the contest.

"The players gave everything in the game," Reds boss Brendan Rodgers said.

"After all the shots and attempts at goal, we just couldn't make the breakthrough - and the longer it goes on, it gives the opponent that wee bit more encouragement.

"But I can't fault the players. I thought they gave everything tonight - it was just one of those games where we needed that first goal."

"Ben Foster made some brilliant saves tonight that kept them in the game.

"I'm disappointed for the players. They've been on a terrific little run, especially here at home.

"It's a big disappointment because we had two home games this week that we felt were opportunities for us.

"But we'll go again and get back in tomorrow. We've got a game away in the Europa League [against Zenit St Petersburg] which we'll be ready for on Thursday and then come back, get ready and go again at the weekend."

Opposite number Clarke praised the world class display from Foster keeping West Brom in the game at 0-0, but admits an international return in not on the 29 year old's agenda.

"There is no reason why he can't play international football apart from the most important one - he doesn't want to," Clarke said. "He made a decision a few years ago. That's his decision.

"That was probably Ben's best game of the season.

"We knew the goalkeeper was going to have to make some saves. Unfortunately, because of the referee, he had to make an extra save.

"When the penalty was given I thought it was harsh and people say it was worse than harsh, but it spurred us on and gave us some positive momentum."