Liverpool 1-0 West Ham United
Premier League, Anfield, Wednesday 19 October 2022
West Ham United battled hard but were edged out by Darwin Núñez’s first half header at Liverpool on Wednesday night.
The Uruguay forward netted the only goal of a closely-contested affair, guiding a downward header into the net with 22 minutes on the clock.
West Ham did not wilt, however, and we had our chances as we searched for a route back into the game.
Jarrod Bowen saw his 44th minute penalty saved by Alisson, while Saïd Benrahma and Tomáš Souček went close after the break, but the visitors could not find a way through as the hosts claimed the points.
There was a first Premier League start in Hammers colours for Flynn Downes, while Kurt Zouma shrugged off an illness in time to take his place alongside Thilo Kehrer at the back.
Alisson almost presented the Hammers with a third minute gift when his attempted pass out only found Declan Rice, but the Hammers couldn’t quite force a shooting opportunity through the skipper, Gianluca Scamacca and Bowen.
The Reds were quick to settle thereafter and soon had the visitors under pressure, with Núñez a particular menace in the left channel.
A searching diagonal ball out from the back by Trent Alexander-Arnold with 15 minutes on the clock provided the Uruguayan with space on the opposite flank and he used it by thundering a left-footed volley at goal, which Łukasz Fabiański did well to tip over the top.
When Núñez’s next chance presented itself seven minutes later, he gobbled it up, darting onto Konstantinos Tsimikas’s cross to bounce a header down into the turf and beyond Fabiański’s outstretched fingertips.
Núñez did not look finished there, and he was inches away from notching a second with 39 minutes on the clock, thumping a left-footed shot against the post from the edge of the box. He got too the rebound as well, but was unable to divert the follow up on target.
West Ham hung in there though, and were given the chance to level on the stroke of half-time when Joe Gomez clumsily jumped into Bowen and sent the No20 to the ground inside the box.
Referee Stuart Attwell initially let the challenge go, but after being called to his VAR monitor, pointed to the spot.
Bowen had scored penalties against FCSB and Fulham in the past month, but was unable to make it a hat-trick, as Alisson dived to his right to push the spot kick aside.
The Hammers came out for the second period with a renewed vigour and pieced their passes together better in the opening exchanges as they looked for a way through.
Liverpool still possessed their threat, though, and a quick break down the right in the 63rd minute ended with Jordan Henderson crossing low threateningly to Roberto Firmino, whose shot was well blocked by Aaron Cresswell.
The Hammers called for Benrahma and Michail Antonio from the bench and the former had home hearts in mouths 20 minutes from time when he got on the end of a long, looping cross from Rice at the back post, but he could not catch his volley sweetly and Alisson gathered.
Fabiański had to make another excellent stop to deny Firmino from close range after a corner dropped to the Brazilian, but West Ham finished strongly and went so close to snaffling a point with three minutes left.
Benrahma got the better of Alexander-Arnold down the left and funnelled the ball into Bowen inside the box. He took a touch and knocked square to Souček, who was only denied by a combination of a desperate touch from James Milner and Alisson’s trailing leg.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Tsimikas (Robertson 81), Carvalho (Jones 57), Henderson ©, Thiago (Fabinho 57), Salah, Roberto Firmino (Milner 81), Núñez (Elliott 57)
Subs: Kelleher (GK), Phillips, Clark, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Goal: Núñez 22
West Ham United: Fabiański, Johnson, Kehrer, Zouma, Cresswell, Downes (Antonio 74), Rice ©, Souček, Bowen, Fornals (Benrahma 61), Scamacca
Subs: Areola (GK), Randolph (GK), Coufal, Emerson, Ogbonna, Coventry, Lanzini
Referee: Stuart Attwell