Liverpool 3-0 West Ham United
West Ham United's 47-year run without a win at Anfield will continue for another season after Liverpool cruised to victory on Monday night.
First-half goals from former Hammers midfielder Yossi Benayoun and David Ngog, the Reds' replacement for the injured Fernando Torres, destroyed the visitors' hopes of a third match unbeaten. An own goal from the unfortunate Robert Green made it 3-0 in the second half. That summed up the lack of luck but, in truth, the home side were always in full command.
The defeat leaves West Ham just three points clear of the relegation zone ahead of a huge home date with Wigan Athletic this Saturday, with the Latics boss Roberto Martinez among the Anfield crowd. Scott Parker will return from suspension and will hope to galvanise the side for the crucial final three matches.
Gianfranco Zola had gone into this contest with the luxury of an unchanged team for only the third time in a frustrating Barclays Premier League campaign. In fact, Mido's return from a virus on the bench for youngster Jordan Spence was the only alteration in his matchday 18, with the squad having driven up from London rather than flown on Sunday.
With West Ham reluctant to throw men forward, Liverpool were also slow to find first gear but eventually took control inside the first 20 minutes. Maxi Rodriguez tested Robert Green with a third-minute drive and 'Gog then had all the time in the world when put clear by Jamie Carragher, only to head tamely into the England No1's hands.
Kyrgiakos was inches away just after that from Dirk Kuyt's flick-on and only brief flashes from Julien Faubert and Junior Stanislas on the right wing looked like giving the Hammers any joy. Stanislas had a sight of goal on 17 minutes after a breakway from Valon Behrami and Ilan but there was no end product.
It was a different story at the other end two minutes later. Steven Gerrard's free-kick found the unmarked Benayoun and he was able to glance the ball in off his midriff with the help of a post. The goal briefly galvanised the away side and Cole was soon twisting and turning past Jamie Carragher before forcing Pepe Reina's first save.
The rest of the first half was a display of Liverpool dominance, punctuated by Ngog's sweet finish after Benayoun had run across midfield and slipped in Maxi to cross for the striker. Chances also came and went for Kyrgiakos, Gerrard and Ngog before Kuyt had Green sprawling low to save from 30 yards.
Something needed to change and the manager did just that at half-time, introducing Guille Franco for Stanislas. The Mexico striker formed part of a three-man attack with Ilan and if it was support the visitors needed, they were certainly not left wanting by the travelling fans who were relentless with their singing.
The hosts were slower out of the blocks in the second half, and only as the hour-mark approached did they turn the screw. A long-ranger from Lucas was the sighter before Gerrard was given another free-kick opportunity. In the ball came and Kyrgiakos stabbed it goalwards. The ball crashed against the post and then in off Green's heel. It was rotten luck on the England man who had performed gamely.
The Reds were rampant and only a last-ditch block from Da Costa denied Gerrard from inside the area. West Ham's frustration was summed up by Radoslav Kovac getting a yellow card for dissent although there was the brief bright spot of Ilan and Franco combining before Cole was slipped in, but Reina was too alert in goal.
Cole was substituted for the final 18 minutes, perhaps with Wigan in mind, with Benni McCarthy entering the fray. Liverpool had already taken Gerrard off by that point - Javier Mascherano coming on against his old club - and were then able to rest Benayoun to allow Phillip Degen to get a rare taste of Premier League action.
Green did well to avoid a fourth from Maxi's fizzed effort on 79 minutes just before Fabio Daprela replaced Jonathan Spector. The changes were coming thick and fast - the next to arrive was Ryan Babel for Ngog just after Faubert's yellow for a foul on Maxi - but thankfully there was to be no more scoring.