Declan Rice was all smiles after West Ham United produced a true team performance to draw 1-1 with Premier League leaders Liverpool at London Stadium.
And it could have been even better for the Hammers, who missed a number of opportunities to inflict a second league defeat of the season on the Reds.
Even so, Rice, who saw a header flash inches past the post just before half-time, was rightly proud of the Irons’ display.
I think you could see that Firmino and Salah were frustrated because they couldn’t go through the middle
“Without a doubt, we were excellent,” he beamed. “We missed some great chances, me included, and I was gutted with that, but I think you saw, to a man, we knew the shape, we worked hard, we got the point and it could have been all three.
“I think you saw us walking off the pitch, we were knackered, but that was the hard work we put in and the hard work we put in on the training field since the Wolves defeat. We were disappointed not to pick up three points but we look forward to Palace now and we’ll try to go and pick up something there.
“The spirit is flying now and we need to push. Palace is going to be a tough place to go but we’re confident.”
For Rice, his assured display was redemption on a personal level too, after he was replaced at half-time in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season, when Liverpool won 4-0 at Anfield.
“That was the main thing. At the start of the season, when I was playing holding midfield, I wasn’t vacating my space, I wasn’t defending properly, I was running out of the middle and letting them play.
“I think you could see that Firmino and Salah were frustrated because they couldn’t go through the middle. They kept going wide and they obviously haven’t got a target man to play up to, so we frustrated their gameplan and we got out with a point.”
While Liverpool’s goal should have been disallowed as James Milner was clearly offside before delivering the cross for Sadio Mane’s opener, there was nothing controversial about the way Michail Antonio latched onto Felipe Anderson’s clever free-kick and fired into the bottom corner.
“Mick was outstanding. Some of the stuff he was doing, like bringing down Lukasz’s goal kicks and switching the play… When Mick is confident, he is unplayable and you saw that and I’m delighted for him.”
West Ham have now beaten Manchester United and Arsenal and held Chelsea and Liverpool at home, and Rice says that proves the Hammers can mix it with anyone in the Premier League at London Stadium.
“Against the top six, we’ve been really hard to play against when they’ve come here. We’ve got to build on that. We’ve got a great squad and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be pushing for seventh.
“That’s got to be the target between now and the end of the season.”