West Ham 1 Liverpool 1

Substitute Michael Owen's 100th Premiership strike two minutes from the end of normal time cruelly denied Hammers the victory their enterprising, attacking football deserved as Upton Park witnessed another thriller.

Although Liverpool had West Ham under pressure in the closing stages of this absorbing encounter, it seemed that Trevor Sinclair's 39th minute goal would be enough to secure Glenn Roeder's side their second home win in three days and another December win to follow the recent success at Old Trafford and creditable draw at home to Arsenal.

But the title-chasing Reds escaped with a draw thanks largely to the brilliance of their Polish keeper Jerzy Dudek, who produced a string of vital saves to keep the white-shirted visitors in the game.

With Jermain Defoe starting up front in the absence of the suspended Paolo Di Canio, Hammers quickly got into their stride, with Joe Cole yet again outstanding as he danced and shimmied his way past bewildered Liverpool opponents.

Fredi Kanoute wasted a great chance to open the scoring when he latched onto Sinclair's through ball, but spurned the chance to shoot left-footed, turned inside on to his right and saw his effort blocked.

Dudek then made two fine saves to deny Don Hutchison - skipper for the day against his former club - and Defoe as Hammers turned up the heat and attacked the Bobby Moore Stand goal with sustained pressure.

Liverpool created little of note at the other end, although they managed to squander the most clear-cut chance of the half, when David James performed heroics to pull off a double save to foil Nicolas Anelka. Another example of James' supreme self-confidence came moments later when he bravely dived at the feet of Emile Heskey to thwart the England striker's surging run into the box.

West Ham have not produced a better, more exhilirating display of football in one half in recent memory, but would they come to rue those missed chances?

Phil Thompson sent on Steven Gerrard at half-time to try and quell the threat of Cole and although Joe was not quite as dazzling or effective in the second half, it was Liverpool's two other subs who ultimately did most damage.

After Cole missed a good headed chance from a Kanoute cross, Dudek made another inspired save from an acrobatic overhead kick from Sinclair in a style reminiscent of his glorious Boxing Day volley against Derby County.

Michael Carrick, also excellent alongside Cole in central midfield, tested Dudek again with a low drive but play repeatedly switched ends and it was James who had to be at his smartest to save a couple of low drives by Patrik Berger.

It was just short of the hour mark that Owen finally emerged from the bench, while Jari Litmanen came on with 16 minutes left as Thompson threw caution to the wind and played with four international forwards.

Even so, Hammers could still have gone 2-0 up when Hutchison and Sinclair conjured a clever move down the left before Defoe fired a first time shot that, yet again, Dudek was equal to.

Inevitably, though, Hammers found themselves having to defend more deeply. Not that Tomas Repka and Christian Dailly had problems handing Anelka, Heskey or, indeed, Owen who had barely made an impression until the 88th minute.

The England striker has had to wait patiently for his ton in Liverpool colours but it was with typical clinical finishing that he swept a rising shot into the net after Hammers failed to deal with a deep cross from the left.

Relief for Liverpool and rotten luck on the hard done by Hammers, who will win other games without playing this well.


6 - After a lively start, Kanoute almost catches out Dudek with a lob from fully 40 yards out that just clears the crossbar.

8 - After a touch of showboating, James' long clearance almost releases Defoe before Henchoz nods back to Dudek.

9 - Heskey collects on the left and turns inside Schemmel before firing in a low shot that James gathers easily.

10 - Anelka's stinging shot from 25 yards out is palmed safely over by James.

12 - Hutchison's short corner finds Cole, who fires in a low cross-shot that bounces around like a ping-ball before being cleared.

16 - With the Hammers having the better of the play and Joe Cole controlling midfield with some amazing pieces of skill, Sinclair sees his long range effort fly just wide of the target.

17 - Sinclair sees another speculative effort go even closer, as Dudek scrambles across to see the ball fly just inches wide of the post.

23 - After James fails to make contact with a McAllister corner, Hutchison clears off the line.

25 - Another exquisite flick from Cole finds Hutchison, whose pass almost sets Kanoute away, before Hyypia clears.

29 - Murphy's determination beats Repka and the ball rebounds to Anelka, who skips through and fires in a shot that James can only parry back out to the Frenchman. With the goal at his mercy, though, Anelka places a weak shot straight at the grounded keeper.

33 - Heskey runs at the Hammers defence and wriggles into the box before James rushes out to pluck the ball from his toes.

34 - Sinclair flicks on Hutchison's free-kick to Defoe, whose goalbound volley is blocked by Henchoz.

35 - Kanoute times his run perfectly to latch on to Sinclair's through ball, but takes one touch too many and is forced to turn inside before firing in a low shot that is blocked again by Henchoz.

38 - Carrick's inswinging free-kick to the far post reaches Hutchison, who climbs above Riise to head goalwards before Dudek tips superbly round the post.

39 - GOAL! Hammers grab a deserved opener as Sinclair feeds Defoe on the left and the England under-21 striker advances into the penalty area before being challenged. The ball falls to Sinclair, who fires in a rasping low shot from 20 yards that flies past Dudek into the net. West Ham United 1 Liverpool 0.

40 - Defoe almost grabs an instant second as he wriggles into the area, turns Henchoz and plants a low shot that Dudek tips superbly round the post.

43 - The superb Cole, at the heart of everything, skips into the area and inadvertently finds Winterburn, whose low shot is blocked.

45 - Sinclair races down the left before chipping a pass into Defoe, whose snapshot flies just wide.

Added time: 1 minute

Half-time: West Ham United 1 Liverpool 0.

Second half:

46 - Substitution for Liverpool, Gerrard replaces McAllister.

51 - Sinclair booked for foul on Henchoz.

58 - Kanoute beats the offside trap down the right and cuts the ball back, where Defoe is waiting to pounce. However, the onrushing Cole dives in to head the ball wide just as Defoe is about to volley.

58 - Substitute for Liverpool, Owen replaces Murphy.

61 - Kanoute again skips down the right and sends over a cross that is only cleared as far as Sinclair, who almost repeats his Boxing Day acrobatics with an overhead scissor-kick that Dudek tips round the post.

66 - Berger runs at the Hammers defence before unleashing a low shot that is deflected to deceive James, who manages to stick a leg out and divert it wide for a corner. From the resulting flag kick, Heskey heads just over.

73 - After staving off some heavy pressure from Liverpool, Hammers break away and Sinclair finds Carrick, whose low shot is pushed round the post by Dudek.

75 - Heskey's dipping volley from just inside the penalty area crashes into the side-netting.

75 - Substitute for Liverpool, Litmanen replaces Smicer.

76 - Gerrard's corner is met by the unmarked Hyypia, whose header bounces just wide of the target.

79 - Berger's free-kick from 25 yards out squeezes through the wall but is well held by James.

80 - Hutchison combines well on the left with Sinclair, who skips into the box and pulls the ball back for Defoe, who is again denied by the brilliance of Dudek.

82 - After Cole has been fouled by Berger, Hutchison's quick free-kick almost catches out Dudek, who manages to claw the ball away for a corner.

88 - GOAL. Agony for the Hammers as they finally buckle under extreme pressure from the Liverpool attack. Litmanen's cross appears to be handled by Heskey but no foul is given and the ball drops to Owen, who smashes home his 100th Premiership goal for the Reds. West Ham United 1 Liverpool 1.

Added time: 2 minutes.

Full time: West Ham United 1 Liverpool 1.