London: A mistake by Kolo Toure prevented Liverpool from strengthening their grip on fourth place in the Premier League table as they drew 1-1 at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Liverpool were seeking to move four points clear of fifth-place Everton and they took the lead through Daniel Sturridge at The Hawthorns, only for Toure to gift West Brom a 67th-minute equaliser by passing the ball straight to Victor Anichebe.
Liverpool's Kolo Toure during last night's EPL tie against West Bromwich Albion. Pic/AFP
The Nigerian striker accepted the gift to level the scores, leaving Liverpool with only a two-point cushion in fourth place and lifting Pepe Mel's West Brom a point clear of the relegation places.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers refused to criticise Toure, saying: "He is a wonderful player. He probably should not have received the ball in the first place.
"I will never criticise any player, especially a defender. We have won many games and played outstanding football, and key to that is constructing from the back."
Rodgers kept faith with the team that had crushed Everton 4-0 in mid-week and he saw his side take a 24th-minute lead when Sturridge volleyed in Luis Suarez's cross from close range.
West Brom suffered a blow when centre-back Jonas Olsson had to limp off four minutes before the break, but a half-time shift to a 4-4-2 formation gave them fresh impetus.
Zoltan Gera had gone close shortly before the interval and it took a stunning one-handed save from Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to repel Gareth McAuley's header early in the second period.
West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster kept his side in the game by blocking from Suarez in a one-on-one situation and less than 10 minutes later, the hosts drew level.
Ivorian centre-back Toure did not appear to see Anichebe lurking outside the Liverpool box and his attempted pass to Jon Flanagan was cut out by the former Everton man, who lashed home a low shot from just inside the area.
Arsenal will look to return to the top of the table later on Sunday when they welcome Crystal Palace to the Emirates Stadium.
Arsene Wenger's side were knocked off the summit by Manchester City in mid-week, but with City not in action until Monday, when they host third-place Chelsea, Arsenal can move above them by beating Palace.