Reds revival continues at West Ham
Written By: Robert Halter
Title contenders, Liverpool were on an eight game winning streak going into the Sunday showdown with West Ham United at the Boleyn Ground in early April. On two minutes, a reckless tackle by Mark Noble on Daniel Sturridge, presented an early long range free kick for Luis Suarez, which dipped onto the top of the outside netting of the crossbar. On nineteen minutes, the woodwork saved the Hammers bacon, when from a Philippe Coutinho throw in, Suarez surged forward with a swerving strike that clipped the top of the upright. Two minutes later, the Reds broke again, after Suarez clipped the ball over to Raheem Sterling but a competent Adrian stifled the attack by clinging onto the shot. On just over the half hour mark, Noble’s free kick drifted past the left post, as the Irons failed to capitalise after Mamadou Sakho’s foul on former Reds striker, Andy Carroll. On thirty seven minutes, a floating ball over the top by Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard, provided the space for Suarez, and after the ball cannoned off James Tomkins, the chance could not be converted as Daniel Sturridge miss fired within the area. But on forty four minutes, the Reds got the breakthrough when Gerrard’s long looping ball found Suarez unmarked and as his strike hit the hand of Tomkins, referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot and an ice cool Gerrard executed the penalty perfectly by rolling the ball into the right side of the goal. But the Irons were given a lifeline when Simon Mignolet dropped the ball after a hard challenge by Carroll from Noble’s corner, and an alert Guy Demel got the ball in from close range just before the break and despite the delay in awarding the goal it was all square at half time. Before the restart, the Reds replaced Coutinho with Lucas. On just over the hour mark, it was the Hammers turn to be denied by the upright as Mignolet leaped to send Carroll’s header crashing against the crossbar, after Mohammed Diame’s right wing cross had picked out Carroll. But the Reds stormed back four minutes later, as a knock on by Suarez was met on the half volley by Sturridge, whose thunderous strike flew over the top of the goal. The Hammers soon replaced their captain, Kevin Nolan for Antonio Nocerino. But the game changed again as Adrian was adjudged to have pulled down Jon Flanagan from a Lucas through ball in the seventy first minute, and this time Gerrard smashed the spot kick into the left side of the net to re-establish the Liverpool lead. Another West Ham change was made as Matt Taylor was taken off for Matt Jarvis. In the eightieth minute, a long range pass by Sterling found Sturridge in the clear but his effort failed to trouble Adrian. With seven minutes of normal time remaining, Suarez crashed a shot against the woodwork again with a crafted lob, after Sterling had created the space. Further changes were made as Carlton Cole took up the Hammers cause in favour of Diame and Kolo Toure replaced Sturridge for Liverpool. In the last few minutes, the outstretched leg of Adrian denied Suarez from scoring as Sterling opened up the Hammers defence once more. In added time, Adrian had to leap in the air to push away Sterling’s bending strike which arrowed towards the top left corner but by then the battle at the Boleyn had gone the way of Liverpool which put the Reds back at the top of the Premier League summit as they looked to end their twenty five year wait to be champions of England again.