London - Liverpool have moved a step closer to the Premier League title in
controversial fashion as Steven Gerrard's penalty sealed a 2-1 victory
at West Ham and capped a miserable afternoon for referee Anthony Taylor
Gerrard fired Liverpool back to the top of the table
after Brendan Rodgers' side were given a dubious second half spot-kick
by Taylor, who had earlier allowed Guy Demel's equaliser for West Ham
despite a clear foul on Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
captain Gerrard had given his side the lead in the first half with
another penalty which was far less debatable and his second spot-kick
took him past Kenny Dalglish on the all-time list of Liverpool
A far more significant Dalglish-related milestone is
now in sight as Gerrard's double means Liverpool are just five wins
away from being crowned English champions for the first time since the
Scot led them to the title in 1990.
The Reds are two points clear
of second placed Chelsea and four ahead of third placed Manchester City,
who have two games in hand but face Rodgers' team at Anfield next
Liverpool are in red-hot form, winning their last nine
matches to prove their title credentials, and they held their nerve
impressively after West Ham's contentious equaliser.
"There were bad decisions both for and against us but we were clearly the better team," Rodgers said.
fairness the referee came out after the game and said he got it wrong
for their goal. I thought the second penalty was possibly a penalty."
it was the officials who eventually stole the spotlight, all the focus
before kick-off was on Liverpool's in-form forwards.
Luis Suarez has been unstoppable in recent weeks and the Uruguayan was quickly into his stride once again.
He curled a free-kick just over the crossbar from 30 yards in the third minute and went even closer 16 minutes later.
Ham's defenders switched off at a throw-in and Suarez alertly seized
possession before lofting the ball goalwards, only to see his effort
rebound to safety off the bar.
Rodgers' men had only failed to
score in two league games this season and they kept their nerve to take
the lead in the 44th minute.
Inevitably, Suarez was the catalyst
for the breakthrough as he split the defence to reach Gerrard's
brilliant long pass and cleverly flicked the ball back past James
Tomkins, who instinctively stuck out an arm to block.
Taylor awarded the penalty and Gerrard stepped up to calmly send Adrian the wrong way from the spot.
Yet Liverpool's lead lasted just minutes as the hosts drew level in the most bizarre circumstances.
Reds striker Andy Carroll jumped for a corner and caught Mignolet on
the head, causing the goalkeeper to fumble the ball to Demel, who poked
into the unguarded net from close-range.
It was a clear foul and
stunned Liverpool appealed for a free-kick, with Suarez shouting at
Taylor to look at the big screen behind him which was showing a replay
of the incident.
But Taylor infuriated the visitors as he over-ruled linesman Stuart Burt, who had flagged for the offence, and awarded the goal.
reacted to the injustice by establishing a firmer grip on Carroll as
West Ham's first corner of the second half resembled a rugby match with
three players wrestling with the towering forward.
threatened to cause more damage when he out-muscled Glen Johnson to
reach Mohamed Diame's cross and power a header against the bar.
side monopolised possession for much of the half without being able to
deliver the knockout blow and they needed significant assistance from
another Taylor blunder to take the points in the 71st minute.
slipped a pass through to Jon Flanagan, but Adrian was quickly off his
line and got a hand to the ball before the Liverpool defender tumbled to
the turf after clipping the Spaniard's arm.
Taylor gave the penalty to West Ham's bewilderment and Gerrard gleefully accepted the gift as he fired home from the spot.