Hammers show desire with Anfield point
Liverpool 2-2 West Ham United
52 years. 52 years the Hammers waited for three points on the Red half of Merseyside. At one point on Sunday, it looked as though it would be two victories there in 451 days.
As when Dimitri Payet equalised with a trademark free-kick and Michail Antonio poked home – not with his head – to lead, it was time to dream for the east Londoners packed into Anfield during a superb first half performance.
Four games unbeaten against the Reds last season, the Hammers put themselves in prime position to make it five in total.
Liverpool, looking the part in 2016/17 under the guidance of charismatic boss Jurgen Klopp, had other ideas.
Hopes dashed through Divock Origi’s equaliser, but not everything lost for West Ham; a crucial point picked up at what has not been a happy hunting ground over the years.
For all the delight the first half provided the away end filled with almost 3,000 happy Hammers, the clash started in the worst possible fashion for Slaven Bilic’s men.
Sadio Mane and Divock Origi combined with frightening pace before the former found Lallana inside the box, who finished past Darren Randolph with aplomb on the turn after just five minutes.
Time for West Ham to step up. And step up they did. Peppering Loris Karius’ goal with attempts, the visitors began to turn it on as they had here last season.
First Manuel Lanzini went close on the volley, before Antonio was denied a quick equaliser on eight minutes.
Still behind, inspiration was needed. And as the football world knows by now, nothing provides the Hammers with more inspiration than a free-kick within shooting distance. There’s only one man for the job.
A pat on the back for the superb Pedro Obiang, drawing the foul from Lallana, and an opportunity for Payet to draw West Ham level. Predictably, he did just that from 25 yards. Whip, precision, pace; Karius’ dive despairing, the Frenchman’s celebration trademark.
Cresswell, back in his hometown, was next to try from range, before Roberto Firmino dragged one wide for the hosts.
Six minutes from half time stalemate at Anfield; encouraging, but not satisfying enough for West Ham. Seemingly from nowhere, excitement was about to transform into ecstasy behind the goal.
Back in the starting XI, Havard Nordtveit provided the assist, clipping a long ball over the top of the Reds’ defence into the path of Antonio – with the help of Jordan Henderson’s head – who coolly slotted home.
No win here in 52 years – surely it couldn’t be London buses for the Hammers?
The hosts were sure to cast doubt on that within three minutes of the restart, however. Disappointment and frustration for BIlic’s side – though for nobody more than Darren Randolph – as Origi tapped in the Irishman’s spilled catch.
If he wanted a chance to atone for his error, Randolph couldn’t have hoped for much better with 20 minutes remaining. World class, no two words better describing the 29-year-old’s save from Henderson’s perfectly-placed strike.
Backs to the wall. Wijnaldum twice went close, but the visitors stood strong, Nordtveit in particular throwing himself at everything that came his way.
Angelo Ogbonna, Obiang, Antonio; the trio having never lost against Liverpool were not about to throw this away now.
Desire, passion and commitment; all were present in abundance. Liverpool left frustrated, West Ham returning to the capital with something to show for their efforts as the Premier League clash finished 2-2.
Liverpool: Karius, Clyne, Wijnaldum, Lovren (Klaven 46), Milner, Firmino, Henderson, Mane, Lallana, Origi, Matip.
Subs not used: Mignolet, Moreno, Lucas, Ejaria, Woodburn, Alexander-Arnold.
Goals: Lallana 5, Origi 48
Bookings: Firmino 53, Mane 76
West Ham United: Randolph, Nordtveit, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Obiang, Lanzini (Fernandes 68), Noble, Antonio, Ayew (Carroll 62), Payet.
Subs not used: Adrian, Fletcher, Quina, Browne, Pike.
Goals: Payet 27, Antonio 39