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WEST BROMWICH, England – Roberto Firmino scored a winning goal for the second straight game as Liverpool beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in the Premier League on Sunday to cement its place in the Champions League qualification positions.
The Brazil forward headed home at a free kick in first-half stoppage time to lift Liverpool back above Manchester City into third place. Liverpool is nine points ahead of fifth-placed Everton with five games remaining, with Manchester United and Arsenal further back but with games in hand.
Much of the pre-match buildup focused on Liverpool's issues in coping with set-pieces — a real strength of West Bromwich under Tony Pulis. There was a sense of irony that West Brom ended up getting undone in that department.
James Milner sent in a free kick from the right wing, Lucas Leiva flicked the ball on from the edge of the area, and Firmino got in front of his marker at the back post to nod home from close range. Firmino also earned Liverpool three points at Stoke last weekend with a dipping shot from long range.
Liverpool was the better team at The Hawthorns but nearly got picked off late on in West Brom's only clear sight of goal.
Substitute Salomon Rondon played Matt Phillips through, only for goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to spread himself and block the winger's attempted chip.
In second-half stoppage time, West Brom sent goalkeeper Ben Foster up for a corner but Liverpool claimed possession. Substitute Alberto Moreno ran upfield on the break and with Foster stranded and the goal open, he curled a 40-meter shot wide of the post.
Liverpool's remaining games are against teams outside the top eight as the club seeks a return to the Champions League after a two-year absence.