This has been a landmark week for David Moyes, the West Ham United manager who reached a millennium of games as a head coach, and there was no better way to cap it off than by leading his team to a 3-2 victory over Liverpool; a team that hadn’t tasted defeat since April.
Of course, this could have been a historic week for Liverpool too but this defeat means that Jurgen Klopp’s side couldn’t create a new club record of 26 consecutive games unbeaten, they must settle with matching Bob Paisley’s team of 1982 and try again.
Yet, this afternoon was all about West Ham. They went ahead through an Alisson own goal only to be pegged back late in the first half when Trent Alexander-Arnold delivered a superb free-kick. However, the home side showed their fighting spirit with Pablo Fornals and Kurt Zouma netting to give West Ham a two-goal lead. Divock Origi’s late consolation goal couldn’t quell the hysteria.
West Ham’s seventh win of the Premier League campaign took them above Liverpool and into third; Just like bubbles, they keep on rising. Meanwhile, this was a setback for Klopp’s team who are now four points behind leaders Chelsea.
Story of the game
If anyone needed to be shown what Moyes has created here in east London then they only had to observe the opening half this match when they held their own against such high calibre opponents. With the London Stadium in full cry, West Ham caused problems from the off, took the lead within the first five minutes and then showed their solidity when faced with growing Liverpool pressure.
In the fourth minute Fornals’ corner was floated in from the right where Angelo Ogbonna and Michail Antonio were positioned in front of Alisson in the six-yard box. As the ball arrived both West Ham players jostled with the Liverpool goalkeeper, putting him off. The ball was deflected into the goal by a stray Alisson punch. With both referee and VAR deeming that there had been no foul on the ‘keeper, the home side had an early lead.
Ogbonna demonstrated the endeavour and spirit that the West Ham manager has instilled by trying to carry on despite jarring his knee in a challenge. It took an arm in the face to finally see the centre-back reluctantly exit proceedings. Such stoppages didn’t aid Liverpool in their pursuit for an equaliser but they soon found their groove.
Klopp’s side probed their opponents, Jordan Henderson, who was starting his 300th league game for Liverpool, sent in a cross and Diogo Jota skimmed the roof of the net with his header. The ball was coming back at West Ham far too often, however, with Ben Johnson and Jarrod Bowen on the right proving the only outlet available.
Liverpool’s equaliser came via more direct means in the 41st minute when Declan Rice was rather overeager to regain possession on the edge of his own penalty area and fouled Mo Salah. Slightly right of centre, Salah pushed the free-kick to Alexander-Arnold and the right back’s delicately whipped shot curled around West Ham’s six-man wall and past the stranded Lucasz Fabianski for his first goal of the season.
Had Antonio been able to keep progressing with the ball when sent through in first-half stoppage time, rather than getting it stuck under his feet, then West Ham might have finished the half with a flourish. They almost did likewise straight after the interval; Craig Dawson, who had come on for Ogbonna earlier, headed against the crossbar.
Despite Liverpool going close with Sadio Mane’s first-time effort being pushed away by Fabianski and Salah’s hacked attempt travelling wide, the home side looked more threatening, particularly on the counter. When Fornals set Bowen off on another of his marauding runs, the writing was perhaps on the wall.
Bowen strode forward and kept going before laying off Fornals, who had kept up with the speedy winger. The Spaniard’s low shot should have been stopped by Alisson but instead it found itself in the back of the net. With Liverpool now up against it, and their unbeaten record on the line, they came close to an immediate equaliser but Jota could only find the side-netting when meeting Henderson’s dinked cross.
However, stopping West Ham was now proving a difficult task. With the wind in their sails Fornals was denied by Alisson’s legs and then Virgil van Dijk was required to halt Antonio in his tracks. However, no one could prevent Zouma from rising at the near post where he headed in Bowen’s corner. Cue ecstatic celebrations.
A nervy finale ensued when Origi came off the bench and scored Liverpool’s second in the 83rd minute. The ball fell kindly for the substitute, he took a touch and spun before unleashing a left-footed shot that found the bottom corner of Fabianski’s goal. Mane’s header in stoppage time should have found the target but soon after the London Stadium erupted in victory.
West Ham: Fabianski; Johnson, Zouma, Ogbonna (Dawson 22), Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Bowen (Coufal 84), Fornals, Benrahma (Masuaku 86); Antonio.
Subs (not used): Areola, Fredericks, Diop, Noble, Kral, Lanzini.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho (Minamino 80), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Thiago 68); Salah, Jota ( Origi 76), Mane.
Subs (not used): Kelleher, Konate, Williams, Tsimikas, Phillips, Morton.
Referee: Craig Pawson.