Liverpool 1-0 West Ham United
Premier League, Anfield, Saturday 5 March 2022
West Ham United produced a spirited performance but came away empty-handed from Anfield yet again as Liverpool scored a 1-0 Premier League victory.
David Moyes’ side had enough chances to come away with at least a draw, but wasteful finishing cost them dear and meant Sadio Mané’s first-half goal was enough to tilt the game in the Reds’ favour.
The Hammers’ hopes of securing just a second top-flight win at Anfield in 59 years had been dealt a pre-match blow when Declan Rice was ruled out with a non-COVID illness, and a further blow when Jarrod Bowen was helped off after suffering a foot injury five minutes into the second half.
After both sets of players and supporters stood in support of Ukraine before kick-off, West Ham produced a performance full of trademark determination and commitment, albeit in a losing cause.
If you had said West Ham would create ten goal attempts and have five shots on target in the opening 45 minutes, you would have taken it, but the visitors still went in a goal down at the break – and it was a scruffy one at that.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was given time to control the ball on his chest outside the penalty area, but his shot was poorly struck, only for it to turn into a perfect cross for Mané to ghost between Łukasz Fabiański and Craig Dawson to break the deadlock on 27 minutes.
Prior to that, and after, the Irons had made plenty of their 25% possession, with Michail Antonio twice and Tomáš Souček both testing Alisson at his near post at the end of incisive counters from the men in sky blue and white.
At the other end, Liverpool almost caught the Hammers out within 75 seconds, but Fabiański was out quickly to deny the Premier League’s leading scorer Mohamed Salah.
The Reds’ fast start also saw Virgil van Dijk poke wide, Salah and Luis Díaz denied by Dawson’s tackle and block and both Salah and Mané drag shots well off-target.
Liverpool went close again soon after the Senegal striker’s opener, but Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick curled wide and Aaron Cresswell made a miraculous goalline clearance to keep Salah’s shot out.
Then, six minutes before half-time, West Ham missed a clear chance to equalise when Pablo Fornals beat the offside trap, only to delay and see his lob over Alisson partially stopped by the Brazil goalkeeper and cleared by Alexander-Arnold, who then blocked Nikola Vlašić’s follow-up to further frustrate Moyes.
And the manager’s mood will have been further darkened when Bowen was hurt in a challenge made by Andrew Robertson as he attempted to get a shot away early in the second half. The No20 tried to continue, but went down and was helped off minutes later.
Liverpool upped the ante as West Ham sought to regroup, with Naby Keita and then Diaz shooting wide and Salah straight at Fabiański twice either side of Mark Noble’s introduction for a farewell appearance at Anfield.
With 20 minutes to play, another golden opportunity for Moyes' men came and went. Souček got clear down the right and crossed low for Lanzini, who saw his initial shot blocked, then blazed the ball over the crossbar from no more than eight yards.
And with ten remaining Noble picked out Antonio with an inch-perfect pass with the outside of his foot, but the forward was denied yet again as he bore down on goal.
It was as close as the Hammers came to earning the point their overall performance arguably warranted, but yet again Anfield proved an unhappy hunting ground for the east Londoners.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, van Dijk, Konaté, Robertson, Henderson (c), Fabinho, Keïta (Milner 90), Díaz (Jones 90+5), Mané, Salah (Diogo Jota 78)
Subs not used: Kelleher (GK), Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Elliott, Origi, Minamino
Goal: Mané 27
Booked: Diogo Jota
West Ham United: Fabiański, Johnson, Dawson, Zouma, Cresswell, Souček, Fornals (Chesters 90+2), Lanzini, Vlašić (Noble 61), Bowen (Benrahma 53), Antonio
Subs not used: Areola (GK), Diop, Fredericks, Masuaku, Král, Okoflex
Referee: Jon Moss