Gallant West Ham fall to cruel defeat at Liverpool
PUBLISHED: 15:30 25 February 2020
PA Wire/PA Images
So many positives come from narrow defeat to champions elect
On the anniversary of the untimely death of West Ham and England legend Bobby Moore, the Hammers put in a fitting, battling performance at Anfield, but just came up short.
Moore was certainly used to that. In his time at the Hammers he only managed one victory at Anfield and that was back in 1963, with the club only adding to that victory during Slaven Bilic's reign.
But despite the defeat, this was so much better than any of us could have expected. David Moyes' team could have won this game!
After going behind as early as the ninth minute, most felt it was going to be a long and painful night on Merseyside.
But then the unexpected happened. West Ham equalised through Issa Diop from a Robert Snodgrass corner and then they held their shape to withstand some pressure from the runaway leaders.
Even more surprising was the Hammers grabbed the lead in the second half. A superb flowing move saw substitute Pablo Fornals, omitted from the entire squad at Manchester City last week, guide Declan Rice's cross into the corner of the net.
It was 2-1 and the West Ham fans began to believe, but deep down we all knew that Liverpool always find a way.
We expected a VAR decision or a penalty to be awarded, but in the end, all three goals were simply down to goalkeeping error. And it wasn't even Roberto between the sticks!
Hammer of the Year and the usually reliable Lukasz Fabianski parried the ball into the net for the first, let the second through his legs and then came out for the third when he didn't need to.
It was a nightmare for the Pole and he knew it.
Manager David Moyes was not naming names, but it was clear who he was talking about.
"We had to deal with Liverpool, but I thought we'd done a really good job," he said.
"It's really disappointing to come here and say individual mistakes have cost us because Liverpool, with the quality and the players they've got and what they've done this year, they have the ability to score from everywhere."
It was inevitable Liverpool would find a way, but it is galling that in the end the Hammers helped them to achieve their goal.
But there are so many positives to take from this game. The back four held up to the pressure superbly. Aaron Cresswell is a left-back and now a third centre half; Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna can do the job and Jeremy Ngakia looks a great prospcct and must get a run in the team.
"For a period, we were winning 2-1 and I didn't think we were desperately under pressure," said Moyes. "I have to praise the players for their effort and their commitment and even at the end, we looked like we were going to get a third right at the end."
First Jarrod Bowen made a darting run forward only to see his chip finish hit the face of the Liverpool goalkeeper and even after that there was an almighty scramble in the home box which could easily have gone in.
"We were up against really good opponents, as everyone is aware of, but I'm more disappointed that, after getting ourselves in the position we did, we didn't take at least a point," said Moyes.
It was a cruel way for the game to finish. West Ham deserved something from this game, but if they continue to play like this and Fabianski plays to his usual level, then West Ham will survive. Hopefully.