Monday, February 28, 2011

West Ham 3 - 1 Liverpool

Scott Parker inspired West Ham to a win over Liverpool at Upton Park that lifted the east London side off the bottom of the Premier League table.
Parker produced a lovely dinked effort into the far bottom corner after 22 minutes to give the Hammers the lead.
Demba Ba's guided header into the top corner then left the Reds reeling.
Liverpool's late rally resulted in Glen Johnson tapping in after 84 minutes but Carlton Cole drove in a shot to secure a valuable win for the home side.
In their last league outing, Parker's half-time words had helped rouse the Hammers to fight back from 3-0 to draw 3-3 at West Brom and the central midfielder was again the driving force for his side.
Playing through the pain of a shoulder injury, he led from the front and his team-mates followed his example to produce a performance of grit and guile for only their sixth league win of the season.
Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish was left shaking his head from the touchline at times and, despite his side's goal, they raised their game too late as any lingering hopes the Anfield outfit had of launching an assault on a top-four spot lay in tatters.
The Hammers went into the game having again dropped to the bottom of the table after Wolves beat Blackpool 4-0 on Saturday, and there may have been a degree of trepidation as they faced opponents who were unbeaten in their eight previous games in all competitions.
But, despite having the worst home record in the top-flight ahead of the match, West Ham upped their game after a slow start to help raise the volume inside the ground by showing the type of qualities they will need to beat the drop.
There was character and composure as they neatly passed the ball about, while smothering any threat the Merseysiders tried to conjure up, with the dynamism of central midfield duo Parker and Thomas Hitzlsperger unsettling the visitors.
German Hitzlsperger, nicknamed "Der Hammer", is renowned for his powerful left-foot strikes and he twice produced well-struck long-range efforts which might have tested Reds goalkeeper Pepe Reina more had they not been straight at him.
Parker is known for his combative style but showed he also has a delicate touch to his game after playing a one-two with Hitzlsperger and finishing with finesse as he put a strike out of the reach of Reina's despairing dive.
Dirk Kuyt sent a powerful strike into the side-netting and Luis Suarez had a dubious shout for a penalty after a James Tomkins tackle as Liverpool responded, although the 3-5-2 formation which has helped improve their form under Dalglish was having little impact.
And, after former Upton Park favourite Joe Cole came on for the visitors when wing-back Martin Kelly was forced off with a hamstring injury, the Hammers extended their lead.
Ba beat Danny Wilson, making his Liverpool debut in the Premier League, to a long goal-kick and, after glancing the ball to Gary O'Neil, ran into the area to head home his team-mate's clipped cross on the stroke of half-time.
The home side's keeper Robert Green was a virtual spectator until the hour mark.
A Steven Gerrard ball around the corner released the previously anonymous Reds striker Suarez and his shot across goal was brilliantly palmed wide by Green.
A 3-0 win would have taken West Ham above Wolves and out of the bottom three, and Frederic Piquionne should have put that within reach but glanced a Mark Noble corner wide.
The miss might have proved crucial after Suarez produced some skilful play before firing a low cross from which Johnson tapped in to set up an anxious finale for the home side.
But substitute Cole shrugged off Martin Skrtel in injury time and raced through to drive in a left-foot shot which beat Reina at his near post and eased the nerves of Hammers fans.

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