West Ham V Liverpool

Post Match Comments
Audio Match ReportSunday 17th September 2000
Upton Park
Referee: D

West Ham failed to get their first win of the season against Liverpool at Upton Park, but registered the type of performance that makes manager Harry Redknapp's promise of a top 10 finish sound realistic.

"I thought we played ever so well," he said. "The goal we conceded was the only opportunity they had in the first half and we kept going. I thought we played some good stuff - I'm very pleased with the lads."

"We miss Lampard who can score from midfield, he's a 12 goal a year man. I've got Suker injured, he's got 2 goals in the last 2 games before he was injured. We've got people at the club who will score goals. At the moment, we keep creating chances and we will score. We've come from behind, 2-0 down against Manchester United, and we came back from behind today with character. The football we're playing is still first class, so it's not the slightest concern to me. If I was sitting here with a poor side, then I'd be worrying about it."

"It's not easy when you go one down at home and the results haven't gone our way. You think, 'well, let's see what we're made of now,' and they showed me exactly what they're made of. There's terrific character and terrific ability at the club. Gerard Houllier said to me: "How can you be bottom of the league when you play like that, it's not possible".

"Every game's been the same and I'm not one of those silly managers who says we're playing well when we're not. I've been around long enough, 20 years in the job, so I know when I've got a good team and good players - and we've got that now."

And Harry hit back at any suggestion confidence is low by answering the question with a question.

"Does it look like we're short of confidence?" he demanded. "Did we stop trying to play football and passing the ball, did Joe stop running at people and doing fantastic things? I didn't see anyone not doing what they can do.

There's not an ounce of shortage of confidence from anyone at this football club, especially me. I feel a lot happier now than I did four years ago when we were mid table."

Harry had no doubt that the penalty decision which led to the equalizer was the correct one. Freddie Kanoute was pulled down by Stephane Henchoz for Di Canio to slot home. Said H: "It was a blatant penalty, he held his shirt, and hooked his legs from underneath him.He's dragged his shirt and pulled him backwards, then he took him down still holding his shirt."

Harry admits injuries are a problem and added:

"I'm desperately short: Rio, Kanoute and Sinclair are not training at the moment. I'm just patching them up and sending them out to play with no training. Kanoute has a hamstring, Rio has a hip problem and Sinclair has a groin problem."

And he had special praise for Joe Cole, saying:

"I thought Joe was fantastic, he's only 18 years of age and he kept going. Carrick and Cole could easily have gone under after being 1.0 down but they showed tremendous character and kept going."

Inevitably, it was Paolo di Canio, the Italian who recently spurned the opportunity to leave Upton Park for Chelsea, who deservedly saved the Hammers with a 69th minute penalty after Steven Gerrard thumped Liverpool into an early lead.

And a point was the least West Ham deserved after a display of grit and determination and no little skill did enough to keep a resurgent Liverpool side, who have lost only one game this season, on the back foot for most of the game.

Trevor Sinclair, Joe Cole and di Canio working tirelessly for their side as they attempted to relieve themselves of the Premiership's bottom spot and although they remain rooted to the foot of the league, it can only be a matter of time before they start to climb.

Gerrard Houllier set out his stall without the prolific Michael Owen in his side, as the six-goal star was suffering from a sore back obtained in Bucharest in midweek. Emile Heskey played the role of lone striker, supported from midfield by the returning Steven Gerrard, and Robbie Fowler made a welcome return to the bench.

Redknapp, hoping to increase West Ham's points haul of two from a possible 15, brought Igor Stimac back into his defence after suspension, with Frank Lampard missing out becuse of an ankle injury.

It was Liverpool skipper Carragher who provided the first goalmouth action when he picked up a loose ball 30 yards out, drove through the West Ham defence and tested Shaka Hislop with a drive from the edge of the area.

Di Canio, subject of a Chelsea bid this week, responded by springing into action just seconds after when he delivered a vicious cross into the Liverpool box. Frederic Kanoute easily beat Djimi Traore in front of goal but headed over the bar from close range.

The visitors quickly punished their hosts for the miss when Nick Barmby slipped the offside trap on the left and found Danny Murphy's left wing run in the 12th minute.

Murphy swung an early centre across the face of Shaka Hislop's goal. Barmby lunged at the out-swinging centre but Gerrard arrived in the nick of time to finish emphatically at the back post.

West Ham responded two minutes later when the irrepressible Joe Cole jinked his way into the penalty area and found di Canio with an audacious back-heel. The Italian side-stepped a twisted Markus Babbel but just failed to beat Westerveld with his shot.

It was sypmtomatic of the Hammers first-half, as the home side had the best of the possession but were unable to utilise the territorial advantage. However, in the second the home side instantly increased the tempo and almost to immediate effect.

Cole, who continues to look like fulfilling the expectations thrust upon him, fed Kanoute 25 yards from goal. The £6million Frenchman turned sharply and fired powerfully but just wide of the Liverpool goal.

West Ham finally converted their possession into a goal when Kanoute was up-ended by Stephane Henchoz after latching onto Cole's pass. The Swiss defender dragged the Frenchman to the ground and when he failed to touch the ball there could be only one conclusion. Di Canio stepped up to cooly slip the spot-kick home, sending Westerveld the wrong way. He celebrated by kissing the Hammers' crest on his shirt.