West Ham grab battling draw at Anfield
PUBLISHED: 18:41 11 December 2016 | UPDATED: 18:41 11 December 2016
PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers fought to the end to earn a precious point at Anfield against Liverpool
Liverpool 2 West Ham United 2
West Ham United showed some real Merseyside muscle at Anfield as they battled their way to the hard-earned point that lifted them out of the drop-zone.
Adam Lallana gave Liverpool a fourth-minute lead before Dimitri Payet’s trademark free-kick brought the Hammers level as the half-hour approached.
And with top-scorer Michail Antonio then netting his seventh goal of the season, Slaven Bilić’s battlers took an interval lead, only to see Divock Origi equalise just after the restart, but this draw will fill the East End with confidence, ahead of the coming week’s crunch clashes with Burnley and Hull City.
Third from top had kicked-off against third from bottom at Anfield, where West Ham United found themselves trying to arrest an alarming six-game win-less streak climaxed by daunting defeats at the hands of Manchester United and Arsenal.
After seeing his side shot down by Arséne Wenger’s Gunners last Saturday, Bilić made a quartet of changes from the side that had crashed 5-1 at the London Stadium as Antonio, Aaron Cresswell, Havard Nordtveit and Andre Ayew returned in place of Arthur Masuaku, James Collins plus substitutes Edimilson Fernandes and Ashley Fletcher.
Liverpool had endured a woeful weekend last time out, too, and in response to their forlorn 4-3 defeat at AFC Bournemouth, Jürgen Klopp made two switches as Lallana and Joel Matip came in for Emré Can and the benched Lucas.
And within just four minutes, the recalled Lallana ensured that the Hammers were again chasing the game, when he ghosted in front of the flat-footed Angelo Ogbonna to lash the ball past Darren Randolph, after Sadio Mané had broken free down the right and outwitted full-back Nordtveit, before crossing low towards the edge of the six-yard box.
In reply, Manuel Lanzini blasted a half-cleared corner high into the travelling Hammers fans behind the goal of Loris Karius and, then the Liverpool keeper diverted an effort from the breaking, solo-striker Antonio aside after Winston Reid had sent him racing clear.
At the other end, Origi launched one high into the Kop but with West Ham now seeming to settle, the threat of an anticipated Red tide receded and, on 27 minutes, Lallana went from hero to zero, when he bundled over Pedro Obiang, 25 yards out.
Central to goal, that was simply perfect Payet range and, sure enough, the fantastic Frenchman sent the consequent free-kick over the Liverpool wall, beyond the groping gloves of the diving Karius and inside the left-hand upright to claim his third goal of the season.
As the Red half of Merseyside bemoaned their keeper’s lack of agility, the travelling claret and blue army danced with joy as the precocious Payet slid on his knees before raising a salute to his battalion of fans.
Having subdued Anfield, West Ham then silenced the famous old stadium altogether seven minutes before the break, when Nordtveit’s upfield clearance deflected off Jordan Henderson’s scalp into the path of Antonio, who accelerated past Matip before nudging the ball beyond both the out-rushing Karius and the desperate goal-line lunge of Nathaniel Clyne.
Just before the break, Payet escaped loud Liverpool screams for a penalty as Lallana tumbled under his challenge and, with referee Mark Clattenburg awarding a corner instead, Henderson’s flag-kick was then met by Matip, whose header crashed off the crossbar to leave the Hammers still leading at half time.
Sadly for the visitors, the quarter-hour interval would only delay the inevitable, for within two minutes of the restart, the Reds – who had replaced Dejan Lovren with Ragnar Klavan - drew themselves level.
Mané outfoxed Reid on the left-hand edge of the area before sending over a looping by-line cross that the red-faced Randolph could only fumble into the path of Origi, who sliced home the equaliser with the help of the right-hand upright.
With the Reds now rocking, Mané sent an 18-yarder inches wide before Roberto Firmino was booked for sliding skipper Mark Noble and Georginio Wijnaldum curled just beyond the far post.
On the hour-mark, Andy Carroll – a one-time £35 million Liverpool striker – stepped from the bench to replace Ayew as Antonio returned to right wing-back and Nordtveit moved into the back three.
Still Liverpool pressed and Henderson’s 25-yard scorcher forced Randolph into a spectacular flying stop that saw the ball clawed out from under the keeper’s left-hand angle and, after Mané was booked for manhandling Cresswell, Fernandes replaced Lanzini.
Clyne sent another long-ranger over, while James Milner’s 20-yarder deflected wide and, in reply the airborne Carroll was left bloodied and bruised as he challenged Karius for a high ball but by the time the final whistle blew the striker’s pain had been erased by the knowledge that the Hammers had lifted themselves out of the bottom three.
REDS: Karius, Clyne, Matip, Lovren (Klavan h/t), Wijnaldum, Milner, Henderson, Lallana, Origi, Firmino, Mané. Unused subs: Mignolet, Moreno, Lucas, Ejaria, Woodburn, Alexander-Arnold.
HAMMERS: Randolph, Reid, Ogbonna, Nordtveit, Antonio, Cresswell, Noble, Obiang, Lanzini (Fernandes 77), Payet, Ayew (Carroll 62). Unused subs: Adrián, Fletcher, Quina, Browne, Pike.
Booked: Firmino (52), Mané (76).
Referee: Mark Clattenburg.
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