Liverpool moved up to joint 2nd in the Premier League after a deserved win at Upton Park. But it wasn’t without incident in a pulsating game which ended the first half at 2-2.
Rafa Benitez will be furious with both Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel who put in woefully under par performances.
The reds are the league’s top scorers, but the problems at the back will be Benitez’ primary concern. Jamie Carragher giving away a penalty after being out-paced and then both him and Martin Skrtel failing to jump high enough to allow Cole to head in West Ham’s second.
Liverpool recalled Javier Mascherano to the starting XI after he missed the last league game against Burnley through injury.
West Ham had a fine chance early on after some shocking lax defending from Carragher – fortunately West Ham hit the post. The reds then could have broken the deadlock but Yossi Benayoun slid his shot well within grasp of the goalkeeper.
It was Fernando Torres who sprung the game in to life with a magnificent solo goal, reminiscent of his very first Liverpool goal against Chelsea.
But within minutes West Ham had nicked one back from the penalty spot. Carragher was outflanked and barged Hines over.
The penalty was not without incident. The Italian Diamante ran up to the kick and slipped, sliding in to the ball with his right foot before firing the ball in with his left.
The laws of the game state you can only kick the ball once in a penalty, but the referee hadn’t spotted it and incorrectly gave West Ham the goal.
Liverpool were back on the offensive and grabbed a corner. Proving once again that Gerrard should be at the edge of the box and not taking the penalties the ball floated across for Gerrard to fire his header down towards the goal. Dirk Kuyt managed the faintest of touches to make sure it went in to the net and claims the goal.
Almost immediately, West Ham were back level when Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel combined to allow Carlton Cole a header from a corner. Reina had little chance.
The second half the reds dominated, Yossi Benayoun was particularly involved, with some superb movement on the ball.
The reds continued the battle, Benitez sent Babel on and it proved to be instrumental.
It was the Dutchman’s cross which Torres headed home in the 74th minute to put the reds back in to the lead for the 3rd time in the game. No wonder Torres delivered a peck on Babel’s cheek in definintely the most ‘romantic’ moment of the match.
There would be no 3rd time lucky for West Ham and the reds went on to secure all three points.
Liverpool’s critics were writing off our season after 3 games but despite not playing outstandingly well so far this season – the reds are back in the top four.
No doubt people will flap about the zonal marking – but West Ham’s man marking for our 2nd goal was abysmal. The ‘system’ wasn’t at fault today, but two under par central defenders. With Agger hopefully on the way back, Kyrgiakos waiting in the wings and even Ayala eyeing up the first team – both of them need to stay on their toes, in every sense.
Post Match Comments
“We showed character and the team has confidence. Four wins in a row means that the team is in good shape.”It was a very competitive game, they were working very hard too, but we gave them hope. It was difficult, but we did enough to win.”
Teams and Match Stats
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Insua, Carragher, Skrtel, Benayoun (Aurelio 85), Kuyt (Babel 60), Gerrard, Leiva, Mascherano, Torres (Riera 89)
Unused subs: Cavalieri, Kyrgiakos, Degen, Dossena
Goals: Torres (20, 75), Kuyt (41)
West Ham: Green, Upson (Gabbidon 25), Ilunga, Tomkins, Parker, Noble, Faubert, Behrani (Kovac 27), Cole, Diamanti (Dyer 65), Hines
Unused subs: Kurucz, Spector, Payne, Nouble
Goals: Diamanti (27 pen), Cole (45)
Ref: Andre Marriner
Our Man of the Match
You can’t argue with a great individual goal and scoring the match winner. So we won’t. Fernando Torres.