Saturday 26th August 2006 12:45 pm @ Anfield

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GOALS: Zamora 12, Agger 42, Crouch 45
Click here to watch the goals from this game

LIVERPOOL TEAM: (4-4-2) - Bellamy and Crouch started up front, with Garcia starting on the right. Dirk Kuyt made his Liverpool debut.



Agger 45

Aurelio ][

(Zenden 82)


(Gonzalez 60)


Crouch 45
(Kuyt 52)



Subs: Dudek, Kromkamp
][ = Yellow Card
Name = goalscorer and time(s)




West Ham United: Carroll, Paintsil, Ferdinand, Gabbidon,Konchesky (Mears 81), Bowyer, Mullins,Reo-Coker (Sheringham 82), Benayoun, Zamora, Harewood (Cole 73). Subs Not Used: Walker, Collins.

Att: 43,965
Ref: A Wiley (Staffordshire)



Two goals in the final minutes of the first half gave Liverpool victory at Anfield on the day the Kop celebrated its 100th birthday.

Both goals were scored in front of one of the most famous edifices in football, the first from Daniel Agger - a cracker from 35 yards - and then Peter Crouch from a close range.

West Ham led early on through Bobby Zamora's fourth strike of the season and although they contributed to another excellent game - maybe not as good as the FA Cup final - they could not fashion an equaliser, although Lee Bowyer hit a post. The Hammers came forward after the break, always inviting the sucker punch, while Lee Bowyer hit a post.

But with new boy Dirk Kuyt buzzing up front, Liverpool just about hung on to their victory - a 17th game unbeaten.

Steven Gerrard returned to the starting Liverpool line-up to lead the side in a re-run of last season's memorable FA Cup final. Gerrard only appeared as a late substitute in the midweek Champions League game in Kiev, having suffered with a stomach upset.

Mohamed Sissoko (knee) and Stephen Warnock (ankle) were out from that side, with Gerrard and Fabio Aurelio coming into the team. Craig Bellamy also returned with Mark Gonzalez dropping to the bench.

West Ham, who have not won at Anfield since 1963 and have not beaten Liverpool anywhere in their last eight meetings, recalled midfielder Yossi Benayoun as they returned to a four-man backline with James Collins reverting to the bench, having figured in a five-strong defence in the midweek draw at Watford.

The energy and movement of Liverpool's opening had West Ham on the back foot, Gerrard saw a shot fizz wide from 25 yards and Peter Crouch's header from Jermaine Pennant's cross bounced just wide.

Then Luis Garcia shot wide following a poor Danny Gabbidon clearance from Aurelio's cross. The Brazilian fullback went close himself on 10 minutes when his curling free-kick was headed off the line by Paul Konchesky.

But West Ham stunned the home crowd on 12 minutes with another freakish goal, the Hammers making a habit of such things after Konchesky's cross-cum-shot in the cup final. Then the fullback saw his effort curl over Reina, and it was the Spanish keeper who was at fault again today.

He was too far from his near post as Bobby Zamora snapped up a Benayoun pass and fired the ball goalwards from the right. Reina plunged back but could not stop the ball going in. A minute later Marlon Harewood was put through by Benayoun, but pulled a shot wide of the far post as the goal seemed to open up for him.

Liverpool's pressure was relentless after West Ham's shock goal, but not particularly co-ordinated. Bellamy and Aurelio both had angled shots that flashed across goal and West Ham conceded too much possession to make their life more difficult. One Pennant break down the right produced a cross that Luis Garcia volleyed straight at Roy Carroll. The Ulsterman was then in the right place to clutch an Xabi Alonso drive. West Ham were trying to hit on the break and, on 41 minutes, Harewood muscled his way past Aurelio to slip the ball home, only to be penalised for pushing.

But a minute later, Liverpool were level when Agger advanced from half-way to launch a staggering 35-yard shot into the top corner. And seconds from the break, Gerrard and Luis Garcia combined to send Crouch in, the big striker waltzing around Carroll to slide the ball home. Six minutes into the second half, Kuyt came on for his debut, and within minutes had seen a effort from just outside the box flash wide and a towering header drop wide.

But West Ham were attacking in more numbers than the first period, and Benayoun twisted in the box on to a Harewood backheel, but Agger blocked the shot. Bellamy then surged into the box to chip Carroll from a Kuyt flick, but was given offside. Replays suggested the decision was right.

West Ham sent on Carlton Cole for Harewood on 73 minutes, but it was the speed, movement and running of Kuyt that now grabbed the eye as the Dutchman sought desperately to make an impression on his first appearance at Anfield. On 78 minutes, he surged forward to test Carroll from 20 yards. Gonzalez did the same a minute later from similar range. Bowyer hit the outside of a post from three yards on 80 minutes when he should have buried the chance.

Paul Walker, PA

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BBC Sport
Liverpool 2-1 West Ham United

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Match Report filed: 26th August 2006