Hammers hit Liverpool’s fading title challenge

Brian Jeeves

West Ham United v Liverpool – Premier League – London Stadium – Report

West Ham United 2-2 Liverpool

Michail Antonio’s headed goal thirteen minutes from time ensured West Ham United a share of the Premier League spoils against Liverpool at the London Stadium, denting further the Reds faint title hopes in the process.

Speculation over the future of Hammers boss David Moyes remained rife following his sides’ thumping at Crystal Palace a week previous. However, the Scotsman remained bullish and focused: “We’re eighth in the Premier League at the moment, with four games to go and we’re just about to go into May. It’s an incredible position to be in, and we’ve been in it nearly all the season,” he explained.

“We’ve also been competing in Europe so have probably played twelve or thirteen games more than any of the teams who weren’t in Europe.

“Liverpool have also played a lot of games but, to be fair to them, they’ve got used to it over many years.

“From our point of view, we’re in there, we’re still in with a shout with four games to go and we’ll try to make Europe and it would be a great achievement to make it four years in a row.”

West Ham United’s Kurt Zouma in the thick of the action (Photo by Rob Newell)

Moyes was once again able to call upon goalkeeper Alphonse Areola and leading marksman Jarrod Bowen following nagging injuries. Nevertheless, with recent form in mind, something of a flat atmosphere hung over the Hammers’ home. Bowen fired into the midriff of Liverpool stopper Alisson Becker as the hosts attempted to lift the mood.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s dead-ball attempt was too high, while Areola fisted clear from the same player as Liverpool threatened, albeit tentatively.

Alisson clung on to a speculative attempt from Vladimir Coufal, while Harvey Elliott tested Areola. Luiz Diaz was agonisingly close, his right-footed effort bouncing off the foot of an upright with Areola stranded.

Alisson superbly saved Bowen’s deflected shot. But from the resulting flag-kick, well-worked between Emerson and Mohammed Kudus, Bowen glanced beyond the Brazilian to give West Ham the lead with his twentieth goal of the campaign on what was his two-hundredth appearance for the club.

The Hammers’ advantage lasted barely four second-half minutes. Ryan Gravenberch fizzed over, but within seconds, Andy Robertson squeezed the ball between Areola and his near post after Antonio had surrendered possession and the Reds had broken from deep.

Liverpool now had momentum. The home side pushed back. Alexander-Arnold had Areola at full stretch, while Gakpo nodded wide. Areola was again called upon. This time, Gravenberch was the man denied.

Inevitably, Liverpool forged ahead, but in unusual circumstances. Gakpo’s scuffed shot rebounded off both Angelo Ogbonna and Tomas Soucek before crossing the line. The visitors didn’t care either way as they celebrated with their fans.

Areola produced an excellent one-handed save to thwart Diaz, then clung on after Robertson drilled goalwards. Alisson had been a mere spectator for much of the half. However, he was on his metal to stop Emerson from levelling with a crisp, left-footed strike.

But Liverpool’s vulnerability was to be exposed. Against the run of play, Antonio arrived to head home Bowen’s delightful cross, potentially setting up a grandstand finish.

That particular eventuality did not materialise. Elliott’s dipping strike clipped the frame of the goal as Liverpool searched for a late winner. A respective point, of little use to either side as their seasons peter out frustratingly. 

Liverpool boss, Jurgen Klopp can only look on as his side’s title challenge faltered at the London Stadium (Rob Newell CameraSport)

West Ham United return to Premier League action on Sunday, May 5, when they face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (2pm).

West Ham United: Areola, Coufal, Zouma (Capt), Ogbonna, Emerson, Álvarez, Souček (Ward-Prowse 74′), Bowen, Paquetá, Kudus, Antonio Subs not used: Fabiański (GK), Johnson, Cresswell, Casey, Phillips, Cornet, Mubama, Ings

Booked: None

Goals: Bowen 43′, Antonio 77′

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold (Gomez 79′), Van Dijk (Capt), Quansah (Szoboszlai 90+1′), Robertson, Endō (Núñez 79′), Gravenberch, Mac Allister, Elliott, Gakpo, Díaz (Salah 79′) Subs not used: Kelleher (GK), Tsimikas, Konaté, Bajcetic, Jones

Booked: Endo (foul), Mac Allister (foul)

Goals: Robertson 48′, Soucek (own-goal) 65′

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Assistants: Gary Beswick and Adam Nunn

Fourth Official: Josh Smith

VAR: Tim Robinson

Assistant VAR: Wade Smith

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk