|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Mohamed Salah strike helps Liverpool to resounding win over West Ham
Andy Hunter at Anfield
Date Published Sat 24 Feb 2018 17.12 GMT
Leapfrogging Manchester United into second was “a nice moment” for Jürgen Klopp but Liverpool’s response to pressure from West Ham and their Champions League chasing rivals felt much nicer. “The other teams are flying,” he said. “So we have to fly as well.” Here was another example of Liverpool’s ability to soar.
Victory ultimately came at a canter for Klopp’s team at Anfield, where the remaining fab three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané were all on the scoresheet once again and David Moyes endured a 15th game here without a win. Yet this was a test of Liverpool’s character as well as the established quality of their mesmerising attack.
West Ham caused problems at both ends of the pitch in the first half and were unfortunate not to take the lead through Marko Arnautovic. After the restart, however, and amid a howling wind, West Ham were blown away by the power of a Liverpool team that can score four and miss several more even when shy of their fluent best. Liverpool now have 103 goals for the season. Salah has 31, as many as Luis Suárez scored in his most prolific campaign for the club in 2013-14.
Klopp said: “To get the points was very important. We all put pressure on each other with results. We have no time to rest, no time to waste one point. It is really intense for all the teams involved. I don’t think United and Chelsea will think too much about us but they know we are around. I would have taken a 1-0 today with West Ham hitting the post four times and Loris Karius making 20 saves because we need the points. West Ham is in a really good moment and have had fantastic results against the other top teams so to play a game like this today I do not take for granted.”
Moyes’ plan was to defend in numbers and use the polished linkup play of Arnautovic, João Mário and Manuel Lanzini on the counterattack. It succeeded to a degree before the interval, with Liverpool often contained and unnerved when the visitors broke, but could have been undone after 140 seconds when Salah struck the inside of a post via the fingertips of Adrián.
Minutes later Virgil van Dijk headed straight at the West Ham goalkeeper from a James Milner corner and at that point it seemed Anfield was set for another Liverpool onslaught. Last-ditch defending and an impressive display from Arnautovic delayed it, although their defence was eventually breached by a set piece when Emre Can headed home Salah’s corner at close range.
The Germany midfielder misplaced several headers in the first half but not the one that mattered and brought up Liverpool’s 100th goal of the season. Can rose above Patrice Evra to open the scoring – the 36-year-old was making his West Ham debut having had his contract terminated by Marseille and was booed throughout by a home crowd that continues to blame him for Suárez being banned for racial abuse.
Arnautovic had almost opened the scoring with a glorious chip that Karius tipped superbly on to his crossbar. Pablo Zabaleta also went close and the Liverpool goalkeeper denied Arnautovic a second time as the West Ham travelling section, sporting commemorative T-shirts to mark the 25th anniversary of Bobby Moore’s death, went into half-time with hope that vanished quickly after the restart.
Salah struck Liverpool’s second when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain steered the ball into his path inside the area. The Egypt international took one touch to make space for himself then cut a left-footed shot back across goal, through the legs of Aaron Cresswell and inside the far corner.
The third arrived shortly afterwards as the wind and weak West Ham defending helped Firmino to his 13th Premier League goal of the season. Adrián’s free-kick held up in the Anfield breeze and Mário attempted to control but was easily dispossessed by Can, who swept an inch-perfect chip in to the unmarked Firmino. The Brazilian sidestepped the onrushing keeper and calmly converted into an empty goal.
The West Ham substitute Michail Antonio made an immediate impact when he took a Cheikhou Kouyaté pass down the right and found the far corner with a low shot across Karius.
It was no more than a consolation and Liverpool’s three-goal cushion was restored when Mané, who struck a post with a gilt-edged chance created by Oxlade-Chamberlain, made amends to complete a flowing Liverpool attack. Firmino released Andy Robertson overlapping down the left and the full-back delivered an inviting first-time cross for Mané to flick the ball over Adrián and in off a post.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, TEAMS AND PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE
Liverpool (4-3-3): Karius 7; Alexander-Arnold 7.5, Van Dijk 7, Matip 7, Robertson 7.5; Oxlade-Chamberlain 7.5, Can 7.5, Milner 7; Salah 8 (Solanke 87), Firmino 7 (Lallana 82), Mane 7 (Moreno 82)
Subs not used: Mignolet, Lovren, Gomez, Henderson
Manager: Jurgen Klopp 7.5
West Ham United (3-5-2): Adrian 7; Collins 6, Ogbonna 6, Cresswell 6; Zabaleta 6, Kouyate 7, Noble 6.5, Lanzini 5.5 (Antonio 58, 7), Evra 6; Mario 6 (Rice 83), Arnautovic 7.5 (Hernandez 83)
Subs not used: Hart, Reid, Hugill, Byram Manager: David Moyes 6
Referee: Stuart Attwell 7 Star Man: Salah