Reds too strong at Anfield

West Ham United remain bottom of the Barclays Premier League table after slipping to a disappointing defeat at Liverpool.

The Reds scored three first-half goals at Anfield to effectively end the match as a contest after 38 minutes.

Liverpool took the lead on 18 minutes through former Hammers Academy graduate Glen Johnson.

The England right-back reacted quickest after he had knocked down Raul Meireles' right-wing corner before thumping a low drive past Robert Green from inside the penalty area.

In truth, the goal was no more than the hosts deserved for making a fast start to the tea-time live ESPN kick-off on Merseyside.

Green had already made one save from David Ngog, while 2010 FIFA World Cup winner Fernando Torres saw his well-struck shot flash just wide of the post.

There was also time for Radoslav Kovac to block a Torres shot and Green to tip over Meireles' shot before Johnson's opener.

Having gone ahead, Liverpool kept up the pressure on the visitors and doubled their lead from the penalty spot nine minutes later.

Torres was the man who won the spot-kick, beating Matthew Upson before seeing his flick hit Danny Gabbidon on the arm. Kuyt strolled up and sent Green the wrong way from 12 yards.

West Ham's best chance of the opening half arrived on 36 minutes when Luis Boa Morte crossed from deep, but Carlton Cole could not mark his 100th start in a Hammers shirt with a goal, heading too close to goalkeeper Jose Reina.

Within two minutes, Liverpool had made the game safe.

Green did well to block Torres' low shot with his feet, only for the ball to ricochet out to the left touchline and the feet of former Hammer Paul Konchesky.

The full-back took a touch before whipping in a cross that Argentina midfielder Maxi Rodriguez expertly flicked into the far corner.

West Ham's disappointing opening half was summed up in added-time, when Mark Noble cut the ball back for Victor Obinna, only for the Nigerian to sky his shot high into the stand.

Manager Avram Grant withdrew Obinna for Pablo Barrera at the interval, while also switching to a 4-4-2 formation, but the alterations made little impact as Liverpool appeared content to sit on their lead.

Noble shot well over as West Ham attempted to launch an unlikely comeback, but Roy Hodgson's side soon regained the ascendancy.

Kovac was at full-stretch to block Ngog's shot before both Torres and Maxi saw penalty appeals correctly turned down by referee Lee Probert.

Frederic Piquionne almost fashioned an unlikely consolation with 23 minutes remaining, but Reina was in the right place to tip the Frenchman's mis-directed cross over the top.

Again, Liverpool were not to be kept quiet for long and Green had to be at his outstanding best to prevent the hosts scoring a fourth a short time later.

First, the England stopper pushed Torres' shot on to the angle of post and crossbar then, seconds later, he dived in the opposite direction to palm Christian Poulsen's pile-driver around the post.

To their credit, West Ham kept plugging away and fashioned three half-chances in the closing stages - Noble shooting over and Upson and Piquionne both heading wide - but it was too little, too late.

Grant admitted his side had been second-best at Anfield, saying: "It was not a good performance. In the last weeks we have performed well, better than our opponents, but we didn't win. We deserved to lose.

"It was not easy but I can take some positives from the second half. It showed that it is not easy to break us even in a bad situation.

"We have to take that spirit into the next game against Wigan because that is very important for us. We need to win. Even if there are a lot of games left we need to start winning now."

Breakout box
Barclays Premier League logo

Saturday 20 November 2010

Attendance: 43,024
Referee: Lee Probert (Gloucestershire)