by Hasib Afzal (@LFCTalk7)
Liverpool came from behind to beat West Ham United 2-1 to move top of the table. The Reds were far from their best but – again – grounded out a positive result (the hallmark of a championship winning side).
Hammers Strike First
Although the Reds dominated possession early on, the Hammers stayed compact and denied Liverpool space to operate. And it was West Ham who fashioned the first opening.
On 10′, Arthur Masuaku’s cross was poorly cleared by Joe Gomez, with the ball subsequently falling to the feet of Fornels who side-footed home into the bottom corner via the woodwork from 18 yards.
1-0 West Ham.
West Ham were comfortable until 25′ when Mohamed Salah’s through ball sent Sadio Mane racing into the penalty but the Senegalese international was unable fashion a shot. The ball, however, subsequently found its way to captian Jordan Henderson who shot wide from 25 yards.
Reds Level Fortutiously
With Liverpool failing to create opportunities, the Reds were handed a controversial lifeline on 42′. A clipped ball by Curtis Jones was controlled instantly by Salah. The Egyptian, who was then kicked on the ankle by Masuaku, went down in a heap (but there was, as the replays highlighted, contact). Penatly given.
Salah stepped up to put Liverpool level with a low driven penalty down the middle.
Liverpool were often too slow and lethargic, and played the majority of the first 45′ in front of the West Ham defence. A 1-1 scoreline on half-time was harsh on an excellent West Ham side.
Klopp Shakes Things Up
Klopp, seeking to inject some urgency into the game, brought on duo Xherdan Shaqiri and Diogo Jota late in the second 45 in place of Roberto Firmino and Curtis Jones.
The response was immediate. On 80′, Liverpool thought for all the world they had their lead. Substitute Jota drove at the Hammers defence before linking up with Mane who forced a save from Lukasz Fabianski, but the ricochet fell kindly to Jota, slamming the ball into the net.
Celebrations were cut short, however. VAR ruled that Mane – who had slid in a desperate attempt to divert the loose ball beyong Fabianski (before it found Jota) – had impeded the West Ham goalkeeper. Foul given. No goal.
Jota Delivers Again
An undeterred Liverpool were not to be denied. And it was the two substitutes – Shaqiri and Jota – who combined to create and score the winner. The Swiss spotted the run of Jota in behind, threading a pinpoint pass to the Potuguese who smashed home.
2-1. Hard thought.
Here is what the boss had to say: