West Ham crushed by Liverpool and that man Suarez
PUBLISHED: 17:05 07 December 2013 | UPDATED: 17:05 07 December 2013
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Hammers skipper Kevin Nolan is sent off as their 50-year wait for a win at Anfield continues
Liverpool 4 West Ham United 1
It proved fifty years of hurt as the Hammers left Anfield still looking for their first win on Merseyside since September 1963.
A wretched run of 43 win-less matches against Liverpool continued as an unfortunate Guy Demel own goal gave Liverpool an interval lead.
And after Martin Skrtel succeeded in netting at both ends, Kevin Nolan was then given a straight red card in between a double strike from goal machine Luis Suarez in the dying minutes.
Following their dismal defeat at Crystal Palace on Tuesday night, the 17th-placed Hammers made a quartet of changes as George McCartney, Matt Jarvis, Demel and lone-striker Modibo Maiga returned in place of the suspended Ravel Morrison, an injured Razvan Rat plus substitutes Joey O’Brien and Carlton Cole.
And while all eyes were on 13-goal Luis Suarez, it was the sliding Maiga, who had the early chances of the afternoon.
First he was a mere stud away from converting Mohamed Diame’s tantalising 10th-minute ball across the face of the six-yard box.
Then midway through the half, the Mali international got in front of Mamadou Sakho to meet Javis’ perfectly-flighted left-wing cross with a well-timed header that Simon Mignolet brilliantly pawed aside for a corner.
Liverpool had demolished Norwich City on Wednesday evening and following that 5-1 win, the Merseysiders made just one change as Sakho came in for Daniel Agger.
While Suarez had single-handedly knocked the Canaries off their perch with a formidable four-goal blast, three days on, he certainly did not have it all his own way against James Collins, who was matching him stride for stride in the early stages.
And when Philippe Coutinho did finally send him clear, the Uruguay international saw his low, angled shot saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Raheem Sterling also collected Mignolet’s throw and, after advancing upfield, he crossed to the far post, where Jordan Henderson was thwarted.
Suarez also bundled wide, while Coutinho sent a long-ranger past the post and, then on 38 minutes, Jarvis hastily came to the Hammers’ rescue after the ball ricocheted into the six-yard box.
At the other end, the breaking Jarvis crossed dangerously into the goalmouth but for reasons known only to himself, Maiga checked his run and the ball rolled to safety.
That was to prove the Hammers last chance of gaining any advantage over the hosts for just three minutes before the break, ex-Hammer Glen Johnson nodded through to Suarez, who unleashed a low 15-yarder that Jaaskelainen could only parry on to the knee of the retreating, unfortunate Demel and the ball trickled over the line.
Having broken the deadlock, Liverpool almost doubled their lead before the break, but Suarez over-elaborated with his finish and his lofted shot posed more problems for the Hammers fans in the crowd of 44,781 than Jaaskelainen.
Big Sam switched his former Reds at the break as Joe Cole replaced Stewart Downing, but the West Ham substitute was still feeling his way on to the Anfield turf, when his old side grabbed their second.
Just two minutes into the second period, James Tomkins skittled Suarez and, when Steven Gerrard floated the consequent free-kick to the far post, Sakho’s goalbound header was helped over the line by Skrtel as the stretching Collins tried to keep the ball out.
O’Brien then replaced Tomkins, while Gerrard swapped places with Lucas, but West Ham were now finding themselves well and truly under the cosh as Jaaskelainen denied Sterling with a low save at his near post.
Suarez then headed the subsequent corner into the clutches of the Hammers’ keeper, before Sterling looped one shot over, ahead of forcing Jaaskelainen into a fine one-handed stop.
The fearless Collins was also on hand to throw himself at any shot coming his way as the Merseysiders turned the screw.
But midway through the half, West Ham gave themselves a glimmer of hope, when Demel sent over a right-wing centre, which Jarvis headed back across goal where Skrtel could only turn the ball into his own net.
Buoyed by that lifeline, the Hammers then forced a corner that was only half-cleared but O’Brien, Collins and Maiga were all thwarted in their efforts to force the ball over the line.
On 72 minutes Diame also let fly from range but his effort cleared the right-hand angle and, as West Ham pressed for an equaliser, Joe Cole was booked for felling Joe Allen.
But ten minutes from time, all hopes of a Hammers point went drifting down the Mersey as Suarez finally got the better of Collins to meet Johnson’s deep cross with a far post header that gave Jaaskelainen no chance.
After that, things just went from bad to worse as skipper Kevin Nolan was given a straight red card for raking his studs down Henderson’s calf and, on 84 minutes, Suarez twisted and turned on the edge of the 18-yard line, before claiming his 15th goal of the season with a shot that deflected off the shoulder of the luckless O’Brien.
REDS: Mignolet, Johnson, Flanagan (Kelly 78), Skrtel, Sakho, Henderson, Sterling (Moses 71), Allen, Gerrard (Lucas 56), Coutinho, Suarez. Unused subs: Jones, Alberto, Aspas, Cissokho.
HAMMERS: Jaaskelainen, Demel, McCartney, Collins, Tomkins (O’Brien 56), Downing (J. Cole h/t), Jarvis (Taylor 84), Noble, Nolan, Diame, Maiga. Unused subs: Adrian, Collison, Diarra, C.Cole
Bookings: Joe Cole (75), Demel (82), Collins (90+1)
Sent-Off: Nolan (83)
Referee: Michael Oliver