Liverpool - West Ham handed Liverpool their first defeat of the new Premier
League season with a 3-0 win on Saturday that ended the east London club's
52-year wait for success at Anfield.
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
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.