|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Liverpool’s wheels come off as West Ham end over 50 years of Anfield pain
Andy Hunter at Anfield
datePublished Saturday 29 August 2015 17.17 BST
The Beatles were at No1 with She Loves You when West Ham United last won at Liverpool courtesy of goals from a then un-knighted Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters. Forty-two times since that 2-1 win in September 1963 their supporters have traipsed back to east London without tangible reward. No longer. Fifty-two years on, it finally came wrapped in an emphatic victory for Slaven Bilic’s side.
“Super Slav” sang the travelling support as their manager savoured his second win in the Premier League. The first came at Arsenal, the second at Anfield with goals from the excellent Manuel Lanzini, Mark Noble and Diafra Sakho polishing a supremely well-organised away display. Following consecutive home defeats by Leicester City and Bournemouth, it appears West Ham are thriving away from the Boleyn Ground a season before they leave their historic home for good.
Not even Noble’s harsh dismissal could dampen an afternoon to savour for the visitors. For Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool, however, this was a galling, dispiriting defeat capped by a red card for Philippe Coutinho that means he will miss the trip to Manchester United after the international break. All the encouragement from a spirited start to the campaign disappeared in tandem with their new-found defensive prowess. West Ham shattered Liverpool’s aim of a fourth successive clean sheet after merely 148 seconds and their momentous victory was rarely jeopardised thereafter.
“Our confidence has been really high until today but a lot of this defeat was self-inflicted,” bemoaned Rodgers, who found no answer to West Ham’s deep defensive block. “The overall performance was disappointing from the off. Once we conceded the early goal we just couldn’t get back into the game again. With and without the ball we have to be much better in the future.”
Liverpool had opened with intent but they granted the hugely impressive Dimitri Payet too much space at the visitors’ first attack and compounded the problem when Martin Skrtel headed his right wing cross to Aaron Cresswell on the edge of the Liverpool area. The former Anfield trainee drilled a low delivery into the six-yard area where Lanzini ghosted in ahead of Joe Gomez to score from close range.
A soft, simple way for Liverpool to spoil their clean sheet. The home team almost levelled when Roberto Firmino, making his first start at Anfield, cut inside Noble 25 yards out and unleashed a powerful left-foot strike that struck a post with Darren Randolph beaten in the West Ham goal. For all the probing of their Brazilian pairing, Coutinho and Firmino, that was as close as Liverpool came in the first half as the visitors’ powerful, composed defence limited the space and supply available to Christian Benteke.
By contrast, Payet and Lanzini were a potent force on the counterattack for Bilic’s team, who should have doubled their lead when Cresswell met Sakho’s deflected shot inside the area but scooped his effort over the bar.
West Ham were gifted their second courtesy of a dreadful error by Dejan Lovren. Rodgers had hailed the Croatia international for his early season improvement before the game but was left cursing that public vote of confidence when the £20m central defender lost out to Lanzini near the corner flag. Lovren shuck off the attentions of the on-loan Argentinian on the touchline, then inexplicably turned the ball into Lanzini’s path on the by-line. The former River Plate midfielder strolled into the Liverpool area unopposed and, though Nathaniel Clyne intercepted a cross intended for Sakho, the ball broke for the in-coming Noble to slide a measured finish into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty box.
Boos rang out from the Kop for Liverpool’s aimless display at half-time and the home supporters were incensed when Coutinho was sent off for a second bookable offence seven minutes after the restart. Coutinho, already booked for dissent, invited trouble from the referee, Kevin Friend, when he sent Payet tumbling while lying flat on the ground. Soft but foolish. “It was extremely harsh,” said the Liverpool manager. “Kevin must have really good ears if he could hear what Philippe was saying for the first yellow card.”
Rodgers replaced Emre Can with Alberto Moreno at half-time and reverted to a 3-4-2-1 formation. He gave Danny Ings a first Liverpool appearance in place of Firmino, introduced Jordon Ibe for Gomez.
The pattern remained the same. Winston Reid and Angelo Ogbonna continued to dominate Benteke in the air while Noble and Pedro Obiang worked tirelessly in central midfield to protest their defence.
Noble received the second red card of the game for a supposed foul on Ings committed after Friend had blown for a West Ham free-kick. The visiting captain protested long and hard over the straight red having appeared to win the ball from the former Burnley striker. It mattered not. Sakho sealed a fine away win with a low shot through the legs of the back-tracking Skrtel and inside Simon Mignolet’s near post in stoppage time.
Bilic said: “It is three points but it is one of those games for the club and especially the fans when it is more than three points. 52 years without winning at this special kind of stadium and we did it in style. We didn’t nick it, it was a great performance in 90% of the aspects of the modern game. It was one of those victories that will be written about in books in years to come. You can’t ask for more than that.”