Liverpool 3-2 West Ham: Sadio Mane nets late winner as Reds come from behind to extend lead at the top to 22 points
- Georginio Wijnaldum opened the scoring when he headed home from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross
- Issa Diop levelled the scores three minutes later with a header of his own from Robert Snodgrass’ corner
- Virgil van Dijk almost restored the lead but his header from Alexander-Arnold’s corner hit the crossbar
- Pablo Fornals put the visitors in front with a smart finish from Declan Rice’s low cross from the right
- Mohamed Salah equalised for the home side when his low strike crept through the legs of Lukasz Fabianski
- Sadio Mane was left all alone to convert into an empty net as he met Alexander-Arnold’s hooked cross
This will be a title of many colours just as they always were in the days when Liverpool won them as a matter of routine. Power, collectivism, technical genius. They have always played their part. And, just like last night, so has luck.
It can’t be said that West Ham took a battering ram to Jurgen Klopp’s side. Three shots on target and two goals tell the story. But it took a goalkeeping calamity and a very providential deflection to see the team home after they entered the hour mark a goal behind. Liverpool four wins away from the title today with a tally of 106 points from their last possible 108 in this competition. ‘We shall not be moved’, the Kop sang at the end. Indeed.
The 1-6 odds-on favourites led inside nine minutes – an exocet Trent Alexander-Arnold cross finding the head of Georginio Wijnaldum who had delivered it beyond Lukasz Fabianski before Issa Diop had even calculated the threat, let alone leaped into a challenge.
Sadio Mane smiles after scoring the winning goal against West Ham to put Liverpool 22 points clear at the top of the table
Trent Alexander-Arnold clips the ball over Lukasz Fabisnki to give Mane the chance to finish into an empty net
Mane (right) finishes from close range to complete Liverpool’s comeback in the Premier League clash at Anfield
The Senegalese forward (right) runs over to celebrate with Alexander-Arnold after combining for Liverpool’s third goal
Mane kisses the ground as the rest of his team-mates make their way back to their own half following his goal
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson 6; Alexander-Arnold 8, Gomez 5.5, Van Dijk 6.5, Robertson 7.5; Fabinho 6, Wijnaldum 6.5, Keita 5.5 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 57 6); Salah 6.5, Firmino 6, Mane 6
Subs not used: Adrian, Lovren, Minamino, Lallana, Origi, Matip
Goals: Wijnaldum 9, Salah 68, Mane 81
Manager: J. Klopp 6
West Ham (4-4-2): Fabianski 5.5; Ngakia 6, Diop 5.5, Ogbonna 6, Cresswell 6; Snodgrass 6.5, Rice 6, Noble 7, Soucek 5.5 (Fornais 48 6.5); Anderson 6.5 (Haller 63 6), Antonio 6.5
Subs not used: Randolph, Balbuena, Zabaleta, Lanzini, Bowen
Goals: Diop 12, Fornals 54
Booked: Diop, Rice, Noble
Manager: D. Moyes 6.5
Referee: J Moss 7.5
Season at a glance
But what ensued was a journey far deeper into the realms of dramatic tension than any had imagined this West Ham team being a part of. The team who had just five touches of the ball in Manchester City’s area last week were level within three minutes, in a fashion which had as much to do with defensive failings as Liverpool’s goal. Joe Gomez did not leap to challenge Diop’s header from a Robert Snodgrass corner on the West Ham right and Allison would have wanted to keep the finish out.
There was more to the visiting challenge than a rare o opposition goal. Mark Noble is old enough to remember the afternoon a few years back when the West Ham team managed by Slaven Bilic earned their first Anfield win in half a century after he pepped them by insisting on Thin Lizzy’s ‘Whisky in the Jar’ playing in the dressing room before the match.
Moyes seemed to have something similar. There was an intensity about the team which prevented Liverpool from commanding midfield. Declan Rice nipped possession from Sadio Mane, Snodgrass ripped it from Andrew Robertson. Mark Noble might have no pace but he displayed the vision. When he sent Michail Antonio away down the right, Gomez could not cope with his pace and it took Alisson to emerge and clear up the threat. Jordan Henderson was missed.
Here were a handful of reasons why David Sullivan’s demands that West Ham fans pay him a financial bond to cover a fuller away ticket allocation, revealed on these pages yesterday, were so risible.
Georginio Wijnaldum (right) opens the scoring with a header from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross in the ninth minute
Wijnaldum (2nd right) gives the home side an early lead as he guides the ball past West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski
The Dutch midfielder celebrates after breaking the deadlock in Monday’s Premier League showdown at Anfield
Wijnaldum (left) celebrates with team-mate Virgil van Dijk after netting his fourth goal of the season in the first half
Some perspective, though. Liverpool still manufactured 11 efforts before the break, including Virgil van Dijk’s magisterial run to send an Alexander-Arnold corner crashing against the top of the bar. The metronomic accuracy with which the 21-year-old Englishman and Andrew Robertson deliver from the wide areas still doesn’t fail to astonish, even as Klopp’s side on the threshold of history. Robertson’s 40-yard diagonal, delivered with a hint of bend from his right outside, arrived in the space Mo Salah was running into. It took the best of Fabianski to palm the ensuing shot over the bar
It was when Roberto Firmino sent another opportunity crafted by Alexander-Arnold over the bar when he supremely well positioned to score, five minutes into the second half, that the faintest hint emerged that of a not altogether elementary night. But the goal which sent Moyes’ side ahead was certainly beyond any expectation and deeply unsatisfactory from Klopp’s point of view.
Declan Rice’s cross from the right found substitute Pablo Fornals, left in two yards of space by a defence sitting curiously deep. There was no challenged by van Dijk as the Spaniard struck a clean half volley beyond Allison. Moyes had not celebrated his side’s first goal – conscious perhaps that the odds on it carrying a lasting significance were slim. He punched the air this time.
Klopp tried to bring some bite and pace to a Liverpool midfield which lacked either. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain arrived for Naby Keita – who had not brought much presence – and promptly struck a 30-yard shot a yard wide.
West Ham centre-back Issa Diop (right) levels the scores three minutes later with a header from Robert Snodgrass’ corner
The defender (right) beat Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson at his near post to equalise for his side in the 12th minute
Diop wheels away in celebration after silencing the Anfield crowd with his third strike of the campaign in the first half
But it was the strike force on whom the course of the night depended and Klopp, watching implacably and stationary, hands stuffed in pockets, could see that something exceptional might be required.
Salah could not find the elevation to meet another Robertson cross when unmarked in the six-yard box. Alexander-Arnolds’ curling effort was palmed away two-handed by Fabianski. It took a gift to bring Liverpool level. Robertson’s cool and measured lay-back for Salah after racing into the box should not have posed a problem with the forest of West Ham players obstructing the goal. The most generous interpretation of Fabianski’s error is that they unsighted him as the shot trickled through his legs to put Liverpool level.
The beginnings of the winner came from a deflected Joe Gomez cross which rebounded out to Alexander Arnold. Firmino could not reach his cross but Mane was at the back post to scramble in the goal which sent Anfield into delirium. No-one was complaining when a further Mane goal was right chalked off for offside. Liverpool, imperious, whatever the weather.
Van Dijk (2nd right) watches on as his header from Alexander-Arnold’s corner clips the crossbar and goes over
The Reds defender shows his frustration after almost putting his side back in front minutes before half-time
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