Hammers roar to Reds victoryBarclays Premier League
West Ham United 3-1 Liverpool
An inspired West Ham United bagged a first home win of the new Barclays Premier League campaign courtesy of a lightning start against a shell-shocked Liverpool on Saturday evening.
Winston Reid opened the scoring from point-blank range to notch his first goal in just over a year, before the home side assumed complete control with a fabulous Diafra Sakho lob.
Raheem Sterling smashed the visitors back into contention on 26 minutes and though chances came and went at both ends, second-half substitute and home debutant Morgan Amalfitano steered home a decisive third in the dying minutes.
Last time out, Sam Allardyce's men probably departed the KC Stadium aggrieved with just one point, rather than three. But on this evidence, Monday's pulsating stalemate imbued the Hammers with the self-belief to attack Liverpool with all they had in the opening minutes.
West Ham raced into a two-goal lead inside seven minutes here and thoroughly deserved it too. The Hammers were bright in possession and incisive in the final third.
The perfect start came courtesy of the hosts' two centre-halves and with just 80 seconds on the clock. As he has done so regularly in his West Ham career, James Tomkins climbed highest at far post, nodded Stewart Downing's centre back across the face and there was Reid to head home.
Five minutes later it was two. West Ham won it back in Liverpool territory, allowing Mark Noble the time to gallop away and pick his pass. The Hammers skipper played in Sakho on the right-hand side and the Senegal man did the rest with aplomb. Taking one look at Simon Mignolet, Sakho sent a delicious dink soaring over the stopper's head and into the far corner. That is now three goals in three starts for the former Metz man who is making quite the impression.
The surprise onslaught, however, did not end there, as Aaron Cresswell looked to get in on the act. The full-back drilled one toward the far post, forcing Mignolet into an excellent fingertip stop down low to his left.
Liverpool, meanwhile, began to ease themselves into proceedings and got a firm foothold in the 26th minute. Balotelli plucked a cross out of the sky and then, on the turn, smashed a shot into the chest of Cresswell. Sterling pounced on the loose ball and arrowed it low and hard into the far corner.
But West Ham were not cowed by the setback and created several an opportunity to restore a two-goal cushion. Enner Valencia's back heal so nearly came for Cheikhou Kouyate, while Mignolet was again at full-stretch to tip the Ecuadorian's free-kick behind.
Even before the half was out, Valencia was foiled once more. This time Downing spotted his run and though Valencia took the shot on early, Mignolet was equal to it, palming it back into the six-yard box.
Brendan Rodgers' team started the second half considerably better than they had the first and were nearly rewarded when Sterling screwed his 18-yard effort just wide of Adrian's left-hand upright.
Balotelli then turned sharply on half-way, before spinning a lovely ball into the path of Fabio Borini. The No29 hared away, but at an acute angle, fired rather tamely into the arms of Adrian at the near post.
At his athletic best, Kouyate was doing his utmost to propel the Hammers forward, but still Liverpool came. Balotelli ominously swung a right boot from the edge of the box, only to see his curling strike fly straight at Adrian. Then Borini went even closer. With Adrian likely beaten, the Italian's strike thankfully beat the angle of post and bar too.
Seconds later and Borini had another go. This time it struck Reid en route to goal, forcing Adrian to parry in the first instance, before smothering the loose ball.
At the other end, Sakho took advantage of some haphazard Liverpool defending but could not repeat his first-half heroics, lifting the ball over Mignolet's crossbar. And so the pendulum continued to swing, with Balotelli jinking inside Tomkins and providing more work for Adrian, who shovelled his strike aside.
West Ham might have settled it, but Kouyate was just about hustled out of it as he looked set to connect with Valencia's low cut-back.
As the clock ticked down, Adrian had to react smartly to stop Reid from heading through his own net. But West Ham sealed a deserved three points in the 88th minute, when Downing, on the break, played in Amalfitano, who showed all the composure in the world to slot home with the outside of his right boot and spark jubilant Boleyn Ground scenes.
West Ham United: Adrian, Demel (Jenkinson 62), Reid, Tomkins, Cresswell, Noble (c), Kouyate, Song (Amalfitano 69), Downing, Sakho, Valencia (Collins 76)
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Collins, Vaz Te, Zarate, Cole
Goals: Reid 2, Sakho 7, Amalfitano 88
Booked: Reid, Adrian, Kouyate, Jenkinson
Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo (Sakho 22), Moreno, Lovren, Skrtel, Gerrard (c), Lucas (Lallana 46), Henderson, Borini (Lambert 75), Sterling, Balotelli
Subs: Jones, Enrique, Toure, Markovic
Goal: Sterling 26
Referee: Craig Pawson