Diogo Jota hits late winner to guide Liverpool to victory over West Ham
- Credit: PA
Premier League: Liverpool 1 West Ham 0
Diogo Jota struck again as champions Liverpool came from behind to return to the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 win over West Ham.
The summer signing came off the bench to score for a third game in succession and kill off a stubborn Hammers side with an 85th-minute winner at Anfield.
West Ham had taken a surprise early lead through Pablo Fornals but Mohamed Salah levelled with a penalty before the interval.
A sluggish Liverpool struggled to force the pace but the double introduction of Jota and Xherdan Shaqiri paid off. Jota thought he had struck immediately, only for VAR to intervene, but he still made the difference as he settled the contest from a Shaqiri pass.
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The result saw Liverpool equal a club league record of 63 home matches unbeaten.
Liverpool’s defensive injury crisis, with Fabinho this week joining Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip on the sidelines, saw 23-year-old Nathaniel Phillips handed a Premier League debut alongside Joe Gomez.
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It was an unexpected opportunity for Phillips, the son of former Bolton left-back Jimmy, who after shining on loan at Stuttgart last season had been expected to leave the club before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Yet while eyes were on him at the start, it was Gomez who gifted the Hammers the early lead.
Liverpool dominated possession throughout the first half but their hopes of gaining a stranglehold were hit when Gomez headed Arthur Masuaku’s 10th-minute cross straight to Fornals.
The Spaniard took a touch and drove a low shot past Alisson Becker that went in off the post.
Liverpool toiled in response. Despite having most of the ball, they failed to create many clear-cut opportunities.
Jordan Henderson fired narrowly wide from distance and Andrew Robertson volleyed over but there were no openings of note for their dangerous forward line until Salah won a penalty just before half-time.
The Egyptian went down after being clipped on the ankles by Masuaku and, although he may have made the most of the contact, he took advantage to lash in from the spot.
West Ham took the setback well and ensured Liverpool did not pick up the pace as they would have wished.
Fornals, providing an attacking focal point in the absence of Michail Antonio, got a touch to a low cross from Masuaku but Alisson was not troubled. Fornals threatened again from a Sebastian Haller knock-down but this time his effort was blocked.
Liverpool sent on Jota with 20 minutes remaining and thought the change had paid off immediately when the Portuguese pounced on a loose ball after Lukasz Fabianski saved from Mane.
The ball had squirmed out in his direction and he made no mistake but Mane collided with Fabianski in his follow-through and, after a lengthy delay, VAR advised referee Kevin Friend to check the monitor.
Friend decided not to award the goal but Jota was not to be denied for long.
Fellow substitute Shaqiri played him through on goal with a fine pass and Jota coolly clipped the ball over Fabianksi.