West Ham boss on the brink after Liverpool cruise to victory
PUBLISHED: 19:48 04 November 2017 | UPDATED: 19:48 04 November 2017
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The Hammers were crushed by Liverpool despite Lanzini strike
West Ham United 1 Liverpool 4
The wheels well and truly came off the West Ham wagon at London Stadium to leave shell-shocked Slaven Bilić’s side marooned on the hard shoulder with nowhere to go.
Despite setting off brightly with direction and promise, the hapless Hammers pressed the self-destruct button allowing Mohamed Salah to give Liverpool the lead midway through the first-half, before Jöel Matip doubled the visitors’ advantage on 24 minutes.
And although Manuel Lanzini pulled one back ten minutes after the restart, Liverpool took just seconds to restore their two-goal advantage through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, before Egyptian international Salah then struck once more to leave West Ham high and dry and the crushed Croatian in crisis.
Kicking off in seventh-spot – seven points and ten places adrift of the Reds – the Hammers had made two changes from the side that had contrived to turn a valiant victory into a disappointing draw during a calamitous Crystal Palace finale last Saturday, as Pedro Obiang and Winston Reid came in for the injured José Fonte (foot) and suspended Pablo Zabaleta following that suicidal Selhurst Park giveaway.
And following an impeccably-observed 60 seconds silence in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the conflict of war, the decibels were soon turned up inside London Stadium, when André Ayew ghosted in behind the Liverpool defence but with the angle closing, the Ghanian striker could only clip the ball wide of the advancing Simon Mignolet and onto the outside of the near post.
The locals were off their seats shortly afterwards, too, when the unpunished Matip upended Javier Hernández with a clumsy lunge on the edge of the area and, as the quarter-hour mark approached, the Mexican was then thwarted, not by a flailing Merseyside boot but by a marginal offside flag.
Liverpool had followed up last weekend’s 3-0 victory over Huddersfield Town with the three-goal grilling of NK Maribor on Wednesday evening and, following his side’s Champions League win over the Slovenians, Jürgen Klopp made a trio of switches as Mignolet, England call-up kid Joe Gomez and Sadio Mané replaced substitutes Loris Karius, Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Milner.
Liverpool had barely threatened inside the opening exchanges and, indeed, East End hopes were high, when Edimilson Fernandes forced the first corner of the game midway through the opening period.
But when Manuel Lanzini’s corner was nodded clear, Salah headed on to Mané before bursting forward in support. With all his outfield team-mates having naively bombed the box in search of an opener, poor Aaron Cresswell was faced with the sight of three luminous orange kits charging at him and, inevitably, West Ham quickly found themselves tangoed as Mané unselfishly returned the ball to Salah, who comfortably slotted a low eight-yarder beyond the helplessly-exposed Joe Hart.
Bruised and battered, the disbelieving Bilić had every reason to look up into the Stratford skies after being let down by his gung-ho Hammers and, just three minutes later, the Croatian was staring high into the heavens, once more, as the Reds doubled their lead.
Having just netted his 11th goal of the season, Salah then sent Liverpool’s first corner of the evening, low into the area, whereupon Mark Noble inadvertently deflected the ball goal-wards and, although, Hart parried the ricochet, Matip – six yards out - was on hand to snaffle up the rebound to claim his first strike of the campaign.
With his side two-down inside the opening 24 minutes, there was yet more misery for Noble before the break, when the Hammers skipper was booked for diving and it was no surprise, when West Ham departed to a crescendo of boos at the break.
Former £35million Reds striker, Andy Carroll, replaced Fernandes for the restart and, after Reid was cautioned for mauling Mané, re-shuffled West Ham looked to have grabbed themselves a lifeline on 55 minutes.
Obiang cleverly sprayed the ball out to Ayew, whose right-wing cross eluded Gomez and with Lanzini sneaking in behind, Mignolet was given no chance as the Argentinian ace cleverly extended his right foot to send a 10-yarder inside the ‘keeper’s left-hand upright.
But the Claret & Blue joy at seeing Lanzini bag his first goal of the season lasted just seconds.
Straight from the restart, Roberto Firmino strode through the Hammers midfield before releasing Oxlade-Chamberlain into the right-hand channel and, although Hart blocked the low, angled eight-yarder with his foot, the England ‘keeper was powerless to stop his international team-mate from blasting the rebound high into the roof of the net.
Yet again, Bilić stared at the stars in shock and the manager’s luck did not get any better as Lanzini skied over, while Hernández headed wide of the angle and Mignolet also raced from goal to thwart the Mexican.
Marko Arnautović replaced Noble, before Diafra Sakho came on for Hernández but neither Hammer made any impression and, with a quarter-hour remaining, Salah put the game beyond all doubt, when Mané waltzed through home territory before chipping to the Egyptian, who drilled an angled 15-yarder across the face of the diving Hart and inside the keeper’s left post.
Indeed, only a full-length save prevented Salah from claiming the match-ball but while the delighted Liverpool fans sat to a man in their seats, those in claret and blue had long departed after another awful day at the office that had started so brightly yet finished on such a dark note for Bilić and well-beaten West Ham United.
HAMMERS: Hart, Ogbonna, Reid, Kouyaté, Fernandes (Carroll h/t), Cresswell, Obiang, Noble (Arnautović 61), Lanzini, Ayew, Hernández (Sakho 72). Unused subs: Adrián, Hakšabanović, Masuaku, Rice.
REDS: Mignolet, Gomez, Matip, Klavan, Can, Wijnaldum, Moreno, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Lovren 87), Salah, Firmino (Solanke 87), Mané (Milner 76). Unused subs: Karius, Strurridge, Grujić, Alexander-Arnold.
Booked: Noble (37), Reid (47), Lanzini (90).
Referee: Neil Swarbrick