West Ham crushed by four-midable Liverpool
PUBLISHED: 17:03 24 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:03 24 February 2018
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The Hammers had their chances but they were outplayed by the rampant Reds
Liverpool 4 West Ham United 1
Yet another four-midable performance by the rampant Reds ensured that the Hammers were frozen out on a bitterly cold afternoon at Anfield, where Liverpool extended their unbeaten home record to 16 games to climb into second place.
Having won 4-0 and 4-1 in their last two clashes against West Ham United, David Moyes men were on the receiving end of another four-goal blast as Emre Can gave Liverpool an interval lead before Mohamed Salah’s 32nd goal of the season and a Roberto Firmino strike put Liverpool three goals to the good by the hour-mark.
And although Michail Antonio stepped from the bench to pull one back for the visitors, Sadio Mané cemented victory with a quarter-hour still remaining.
Kicking off in 12th spot – nine places and 24 points adrift of high-flying Liverpool - the Hammers made two switches from the side that had beaten Watford a fortnight ago, as debutant Patrice Evra and fit-again Manuel Lanzini came in for substitutes Antonio and an unlucky, in-form, Javier Hernández.
West Ham may have only lost two of their previous 12 Premier League matches but former Everton boss Moyes returned to Merseyside knowing that he had never won on the Red side of Liverpool in his 14 previous attempts, while the Hammers had only triumphed once in their last 48 visits to Anfield.
And quite predictably the Hammers quickly found themselves under the cosh against a Liverpool team that came into this game unbeaten in all 15 Premier League home matches this season as Salah strolled onto Firmino’s perfect pass before seeing Adrián tip his low, angled 10-yarder onto the base of the right-hand post with just two minutes on the clock.
Shortly afterwards, Virgil van Dijk sent a point-blank header into the Spanish keeper’s gloves and with the hosts well on top, the juggling Salah was then denied in the act of shooting by Collins, once more.
Liverpool all but booked their ticket to the Champions League quarter-finals last time out with a 5-0 win over Porto and, following that Valentine’s Day massacre in Portugal, Jürgen Klopp had made three changes for the return to domestic action with Can, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joel Matip replacing Georginio Wijnaldum plus substitutes Jordan Henderson and Dejan Lovren.
On the 25th anniversary of Bobby Moore’s passing the travelling fans had been handed claret and blue No.6 T-shirts in honour of the Hammers icon and, on the quarter-hour mark, those freezing East Enders almost saw their side catch Liverpool cold.
Released by Lanzini, Marko Arnautović advanced to edge of the Reds area before chipping Loris Karius, who just about got a fingernail onto the ball to divert it onto the crossbar to leave the Austrian looking high into the Anfield skies.
Minutes later, Pablo Zabaleta drilled an angled shot across goal but the stretching Lanzini could not turn the ball in at the far post and, shortly afterwards, the returning Argentinian shot tamely at Karius.
Having survived that brief surge of Hammers resistance, though, Liverpool re-grouped and pressed again and, as the half-hour mark approached, Klopp’s men finally broke the deadlock, when Adrián tipped aside Matip’s 20-yarder.
Salah floated the consequent corner into the danger-zone, where Can outjumped Evra to nod the Reds into the lead with a thumping six-yard header.
James Milner then forced Adrián to tip over his high up and under before Salah and Can went close to doubling the lead but Arnautović might even have levelled just before the break with a 25-yard rocket however, the alert Karius tipped the goal-bound shot over the angle to give West Ham their first corner of the half and preserve an interval lead for his side.
Just after the restart, Cheikhou Kouyaté was cautioned for an aerial challenge on van Dijk and he followed Collins into the book following the Welshman’s tug on Andrew Robertson just before half-time.
Having struck the post in the opening moments of this encounter, that man Salah went one better just five minutes into the second period, when Oxlade-Chamberlain bumped and bruised his way to the edge of the Hammers area and, with referee Stuart Attwell playing advantage, the ball found its way to the enigmatic Egyptian, who held off Aaron Cresswell before stroking a low, angled 10-yarder across the face of Adrián and into the bottom right-hand corner.
Then, on 57 minutes, Can robbed Mário on the half-way line before releasing Firmino who allowed the outrushing Adrián to collide with the back-pedalling Zabaleta before stroking his 22nd goal of the season into an unguarded net.
That was the cue for Lanzini to retire in place of Antonio, who made an instant impact as Kouyaté robbed Can before sending the claret & blue substitute clear and he cut a low, angled 12-yard shot across the faces of both van Dijk and Karius to give West Ham just the smallest glimmer of hope with his second goal of the campaign.
Collins also nodded onto the roof of the Liverpool net, while Arnautović also threatened to the concern of both Klopp and the Liverpool faithful but, once again, East End resistance was soon quelled as Adrián found himself working overtime.
Having denied Mané at point-blank range, before seeing the Senegalese striker hit his right-hand upright, there was simply nothing that Adrián could do on 76 minutes when a free-flowing Liverpool move enabled Firmino to play in the overlapping Robertson, whose low right-wing cross into the six-yard box was cleverly clipped over the Spaniard by the in-rushing Reds hit-man to seal victory for a Reds side that has lost just once in 19 Premier League games.
REDS: Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Matip, van Dijk, Can, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner, Salah (Solanke 86), Mané (Moreno 86), Firmino (Lallana 81). Unused subs: Mignolet, Lovren, Gomez, Henderson.
HAMMERS: Adrián, Ogbonna, Collins, Cresswell, Zabaleta, Evra, Noble, Kouyaté, Mário (Rice 83), Arnautovic (Hernández 83), Lanzini (Antonio 58). Unused subs: Hart, Reid, Hugill, Byram.
Booked: Collins (43), van Dijk (47)
Referee: Stuart Attwell.