Livermore’s late stunner seals dramatic West Brom win over Birmingham City

West Brom kept alive their slim hopes of an automatic promotion spot with Jake Livermore’s thunderous half-volley sealing a dramatic comeback win against Birmingham at the Hawthorns, their third victory in succession under the caretaker manager, James Shan.

Albion had battled back to 2-2 after trailing twice when, with 16 minutes to go, Birmingham’s defence failed to clear Dwight Gayle’s cross and Livermore’s effort from the edge of the area crashed past Lee Camp in the City goal. Livermore’s only other goal this season also proved vital – it was the injury-time winner in the 3-2 victory over QPR last month.

“It was great resilience and great character,” said Shan. “I think the group and the team have had that throughout the season.”

Birmingham, who were this week docked nine points for a breach of the Football League’s profitability and sustainability rules, a penalty that sent them from the top half down to 18th place in the table, took the lead after seven minutes. Connor Mahoney’s corner was headed home by the unmarked Gary Gardner from close range.

It was no more than Gary Monk’s side deserved after a bright opening and it took a smart tackle from Ahmed Hegazi to stop Che Adams from doubling the lead just after the half-hour mark.

Five minutes before the interval City’s Lukasz Jutkiewicz found himself unmarked 10 yards out but planted his free header straight at Sam Johnstone in the West Brom goal.

Is it a three-horse race? Rivals
may disagree, but here’s how
the leading trio shape up:

                       P  W D L F  A GD Pts

Norwich    38 23 9 6 77 48 29 78
Sheff Utd  38 22 8 8 64 34 30 74
Leeds Utd 38 22 7 9 63 39 24 73

Remaining games:

Norwich  

Middlesbrough A Today, 5.30pm
QPR H Sat 6 Apr, 12.30pm
Reading H Wed 10 Apr, 7.45pm
Wigan A Sun 14 Apr, 12pm
Sheffield Weds H Fri 19 Apr, 7.45pm
Stoke A Mon 22 Apr, 3pm
Blackburn H Sat 27 Apr, 3pm
Aston Villa A Sun 5 May, 12.30pm

Sheffield United  

Bristol City H Today, 3pm
Preston A Sat 6 Apr, 3pm
Birmingham A Wed 10 Apr, 7.45pm
Millwall H Sat 13 Apr, 3pm
N Forest H Fri 19 Apr, 12.30pm
Hull City A Mon 22 Apr, 3pm
Ipswich H Sat 27 Apr, 3pm
Stoke A Sun 5 May, 12.30pm

Leeds United

Millwall H Sat 30 Mar, 3pm
Birmingham A Sat 6 Apr, 3pm
Preston A Tue 9 Apr, 7.45pm
Sheffield Weds H Sat 13 Apr, 5.30pm
Wigan H Fri 19 Apr, 3pm
Brentford A Mon 22 Apr, 5.15pm
Aston Villa H Sat 27 Apr, 3pm
Ipswich A Sun 5 May, 12.30pm

Albion, ragged throughout the first half, found their stride early in the second and were back on level terms within two minutes of the restart. Chris Brunt’s inswinging free-kick was met by Gayle, who glanced home his 17th goal of the season.

That appeared to have turned the tide but the home side were found wanting from another Birmingham corner just before the hour. This time Jutkiewicz was the beneficiary of slack marking, heading home his first goal since November.

The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email.

Albion drew level once more six minutes later. Mahoney dived in to bring down James Morrison in the penalty area and Jay Rodriguez made no mistake from the spot.

“It is another poor decision that has gone against us,” said Monk. “The referee guessed and he guessed against us.”

But there was nothing uncertain about Livermore’s late winner.