West Ham demolish Liverpool to end 52-year wait for Anfield triumph
Goals from Manuel Lanzini and Mark Noble put Slaven Bilic’s side firmly in control of a fixture in which they had not tasted victory since a 2-1 triumph in September 1963 before Diafra Sakho’s late effort completed the rout.
The dismissal of Liverpool’s midfielder Philippe Coutinho early in the second half left the home side with a mountain to climb, although Noble’s own sending off evened the teams up for the final 11 minutes.
The two first half goals, created inside the opening half hour, were a consequence of poor Liverpool defending, a trait which Reds boss Brendan Rodgers seemed to have corrected with his team having not conceded in their opening three league games.
Central defenders Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren shared responsibility for the two goals.
After just three minutes Skrtel’s defensive clearing header was inaccurate and not particularly powerful, the centre-half clearing Dimitri Payet’s centre directly to Aaron Cresswell, who intelligently picked out Lanzini for a routine finish on the edge of the six-yard area.
Worse was to follow, on 29 minutes, after Lovren attempted to shepherd the ball out of play near the right-hand corner flag but simply turned it over to Lanzini, who worked his way down the by-line and crossed for Noble to score after an attempted block by Nathaniel Clyne.
Liverpool had responded to the opening goal with confidence but lacked the necessary poise and cutting edge once inside the Hammers box.
Coutinho flashed a wild shot over, Roberto Firmino switched feet neatly outside the area to make room for a 20-yard shot which struck the Hammers woodwork and Christian Benteke went down under slight defensive contact and appealed in vain for a penalty.
But West Ham looked just as capable of adding to their tally as they played an effective counter-attacking tactic through the pace and trickery of Lanzini.
After 15 minutes, the West Ham midfielder picked up a loose ball in midfield and ran at the retreating defence before shooting just wide, while Payet and Cheikhou Kouyate combined in another attack which ended with Cresswell finding space for a shot that cleared the far post.
But the half ended in costly fashion for Liverpool with Coutinho booked for refusing to retreat at a free-kick, a decision by referee Kevin Friend which put the official in an awkward position six minutes after the restart when he decided the same Liverpool man was the guilty party in a collision with Payet, forcing him to reach for a second yellow and dismiss him.
Coutinho had just cleared the West Ham bar with a 20-yard shot and, without his creativity, it was hard to imagine his side regaining a foothold in the game, a fact acknowledged by Rodgers who brought on close-season signing Danny Ings after the hour.
James Milner failed with a low shot from distance, Ings tried to combine with Benteke but was crowded off the return pass and the Hammers responded with Kouyate sending a shot skidding just off the mark and Cresswell’s near-post shot being saved by Simon Mignolet.
Winston Reid headed wide from a corner as West Ham sought an implausible third goal although the visitors seemed to dampen their ambition after Noble went into a challenge with Ings with his studs showing and was shown a straight red.
Nevertheless, they did manage to find that third goal in stoppage-time as Sakho took a pass deflected into his path off Alberto Moreno and shrugged off two challenges before scoring from 16 yards.
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