Liverpool V West Ham

Post Match Comments
Audio Match ReportSaturday 3rd February 2001
Referee: S Bennett

Harry Redknapp admitted his team were well and truly turned over by a confident Liverpool side but refused to blame the exertions of the past week for the failure to put up a decent fight at Anfield.

Said H: "We didn't play well today and they were a class above us all over the park really.

"We've been playing well away lately, but one or two players were below par today. It was the same team for the last couple of games, with the exception of Paolo and Shaka, and I had to throw people in today that aren't ready.

"The two kids who came on still aren't really there yet and Ian Pearce is still struggling, so I am not able to change the team as I would like.

"Steve Lomas and Trevor Sinclair are both missing and I can't really afford to be without important players like those."

But Harry wouldn't use the excuse of playing three games in six days to defend his reputation: "I don't want to say that because it sounds like an excuse, but it isn't easy.

"In an ideal world, I would have liked to have rested Winterburn and Pearce who are in their late 30s but I couldn't do it."

H also admitted that the first goal had come as a shock to him after a fairly scrappy start

"There wasn't much happening until they scored. That goal gave them and their crowd a lift.

"I said at half time the next goal was important and if we could have got it it would have been game on.

"But I thought their front two were excellent. Heskey was knocking them down and Fowler was picking up the loose balls, he always looked dangerous.

"We've had a run where we got ourselves up there, but we haven't got the results lately. We've played well enough apart from today, but I still think we'll think finish in the top half this season, which is where we want to be."

The Hammers' performance was certainly in stark contrast to their FA Cup triumph at Old Trafford last week, when resolute defending and possession football were the order of the day.

This display sadly lacked both of those attributes and, but for some wasteful finishing in front of goal, Liverpool could quite easily have doubled their scoreline.

The attacking trio of Robbie Fowler, Emile Heskey and Vladimir Smicer proved the sharpest thorn in the side of Harry Redknapp's men, as they combined frequently with pace, verve and power to open up a defence that had kept clean sheets in their previous two matches.

It was Czech international Smicer who started the scoring in the 20th minute, when he received a pass from Gerrard and unleashed a dipping 25-yarder that flew past the fingertips of Forrest.

That was two minutes after he had fired a good chance over the bar from inside the box but, up until then, there had been no real indication that the home side would control proceedings so dominantly.

The Hammers had enjoyed their fair share of possession in the early stages and created the first opportunity of the match when Kanoute broke free in the box but was just beaten to the ball by Westerveld, whose clearance was fired back immediately by Schemmel but deflected into the side-netting.

Once they broke the deadlock though, there was no looking back for the Reds and it became clear that the visitors would be waiting another year for a chance to end the Anfield hoodoo that we have endured since 1963.

Despite their obvious dominance though, Liverpool failed to convert several good chances leading up to the interval and the Hammers were looking forward to correcting things in the dressing-room with only a single goal to claw back.

Then came the sucker-punch. A quickk throw on the right hand side just a minute before the break released Fowler into the area and with Stuart Pearce trailing in his wake, the England striker made no mistake with a well-struck left-foot shot that beat Forrest at his near post.

The Hammers rallied briefly after the interval and had a glorious chance to equalise when a fantastic run and pass from Cole released Kanoute on goal, but the Frenchman showed too much of the ball to Westerveld and was forced to stretch for his shot, which the Dutch keeper tipped round the post.

Five minutes later, the Hammers were made to pay for their slackness in front of goal when Heskey played in Smicer on the left and Fowler cracked home his second from the penalty spot.

After that, the Hammers' efforts were restricted to long-range attempts that never looked like troubling Westerveld and, as they pushed more men forward in the search for a lifeline, left gaps down the flanks that were exploited by the pace and stamina of Liverpool's midfield.

Gerrard and Smicer both came close, while Fowler had a hat-trick ruled out when the ball rolled out for a goal kick before Smicer's cross.

Young Bulgarian striker Svetoslav Todorov made his debut for the Hammers as a late substitute for Fredi Kanoute - struggling with a groin injury, but a goal never looked likely without the influential Paolo Di Canio in attack.

The Italian went down with flu the day before travelling to Merseyside and missed out on what proved to be a rather poorly performance from his Hammers' team-mates.


4 - Frederic Kanoute skips on to a loose ball but can't reach it before Westerveld, who clears out to the touchline. Schemmel's instant return is deflected behind, but no corner is given.

14 - After a tense and scrappy opening with little goalmouth action, Fowler's 30-yard free-kick is deflected behind for a corner.

18 - Babbel feeds Smicer on the right and the Czech star beats Pearce but fires his shot high over the bar.

19 - Hamann disposseses Cole before slipping a pass through to Heskey. Dailly's perfectly-timed challenge thwarts the Liverpool star however.

20 - GOAL. Smicer makes up for his previous effort after receiving a pass from Gerrard, as he fires a magnificent dipping shot past Forrest from 25 yards out. Liverpool 1 West Ham 0.

24 - Biscan runs at the Hammers defence from the halfway line but his shot is too weak to trouble Forrest.

28 - Vignal's long ball clears Tihinen and finds Fowler who, under pressure from Dailly, slices his shot into the arms of Forrest.

30 - Heskey's knock-down finds Fowler, who returns the compliment and slips in a pass that his partner runs on to before firing straight at the legs of Forrest.

31 - Kanoute BOOKED for foul on Babbel.

32 - Substitution for Liverpool. Wright replaces Babbel.

39 - Heskey and Fowler combine again to release Smicer, who fires a left-footed shot over the bar from close range.

42 - After receiving a pass from Gerrard, Biscan curls a low shot that is saved easily by Forrest.

44 - GOAL. Fowler runs on to a flick from Wright and buries a low shot past Forrest from the edge of the area. Liverpool 2 West Ham 0.

45 - Smicer's low cross is met by Heskey, whose shot flies just past the post.

ADDED TIME: 3 minutes.

HALF-TIME: Liverpool 2 West Ham 0.


46 - Substitution for Liverpool. Barmby replaces Biscan.

47 - Cole latches on to a looped pass and challenges Westerveld, who can only punch out as far as Lampard. However, the stand-in skipper plants his shot straight at a defender.

49 - Westerveld's long kick is flicked on by Heskey to Barmby, who hooks his shot into the arms of Forrest.

52 - A fantastic burst from Cole in the middle of the field sees him sprint away from his markers and release Kanoute, whose toe poke is tipped round the post by Westerveld.

54 - After Camara has been fouled some 30 yards out, Lampard's free-kick is deflected by Gerrard and appears to be looping in until Westerveld acrobatically plucks it out of the air.

55 - Substitution for West Ham. Song replaces Schemmel.

57 - GOAL. Heskey's reverse ball sets Smicer on his way down the left and his low cross is converted by Fowler for his second of the game. Liverpool 3 West Ham O.

61 - Substitution for Liverpool. Ziege replaces Barmby.

63 - Heskey continues to frighten the Hammers defence as he cuts in from the left and fires a blistering shot just over the bar.

68 - Song cuts in from the right hoping for a goal against his former club, but scuffs his shot wide.

69 - Another clearance from Westerveld is flicked on by Heskey for Fowler, but the striker is denied a hat-trick by a smart stop from Forrest.

70 - Kanoute's back-heel on the edge of the box creates some space for Lampard, but his fierce shot is palmed away by Westerveld.

71 - Smicer again pulls the ball back for Fowler to slam into the net, but the linesman rules that the ball had crossed the line for a goal kick before Smicer reached it.

73 - Substitution for West Ham. Todorov replaces Kanoute.

78 - Gerrard runs free on the right before firing a shot in that Forrest saves with his legs. Fowler's follow-up is blocked by Dailly.

80 - Substitution for West Ham. Soma replaces Cole.

82 - Attacking down the flanks at every opportunity, this time it's Ziege's turn to break clear on the left and pull the ball back for Fowler, who blasts high into the Kop.

85 - Lampard picks up a loose ball some 30 yards out and fires a low shot that has Westerveld scrambling but flies inches past the post.

ADDED TIME: 2 minutes.

FULL TIME: Liverpool 3 West Ham 0.