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  • Liverpool 4-1 West Ham United, Premier League

Liverpool triumph in game of own goals

ESPN staff
December 7, 2013
James Collins tries in vain to keep Mamadou Sakho's effort out for the second of four own goals at Anfield © PA Photos
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Liverpool ran out comfortable winners in the end against West Ham but will be sweating on the fitness of their captain Steven Gerrard after a 4-1 win at Anfield.

Four own goals were scored in the game, with Guy Demel putting through his own net in the first half, while James Collins also bundled into his goal under pressure from Martin Skrtel to put Liverpool 2-0 up and seemingly in cruise control.

However, Gerrard left the field with what appeared to be a hamstring strain midway through the second half, and West Ham seized the initiative, pulling a goal back through Skrtel's own goal - his second in seven days.

After Madibo Maiga missed a sitter from four yards, Liverpool made the game safe through Luis Suarez's strike in the 81st minute, and Kevin Nolan was then sent off for a heavy challenge on Jordan Henderson. Joey O'Brien was then credited with another own goal from a Suarez effort.

In the first half, even with playmaker Philippe Coutinho pulling the strings, often dropping very deep from his position behind the main striker, West Ham appeared to have worked out a way to stifle Liverpool's primary threat.

The visitors packed central areas with plenty of bodies and if nothing else that restricted the space in which Suarez had to move. But even that tactic cannot cut Suarez entirely out of the game and that is why his standing in world football is matching his soaring valuation.

Having seen a left-footed chip drift wide the 26-year-old was a lively presence in and around the penalty area and had a shot from Gerrard's pass deflected wide before getting in the way of Jordan Henderson's effort after he cut in from the left.

That was symptomatic of the opening 40 minutes as Liverpool strained to create chances but none which could really be described as clear-cut.

Raheem Sterling, who got a verbal rocket from Gerrard urging him to up his game and was frequently whistled at by manager Brendan Rodgers, provided plenty going forward but not nearly enough in the finishing department.

His pace on the diagonal run from the right started to open up the Hammers' defence - especially with Coutinho's weight of pass timed to perfection - but he lacked an end product and his scuffed shot having outpaced his opponents failed to trouble Jussi Jaaskelainen.

That task fell to Suarez, of course, whose angled shot just before the break was not held by the Finn and bounced into the path of Demel who diverted the ball back past his own goalkeeper. It was just the lucky break the home side needed after a first half of toil.

West Ham could feel slightly aggrieved as they had created the best chance when Maiga's header was brilliantly tipped over by Simon Mignolet. They also saw Matt Jarvis' cross evade Mignolet and roll through the six-yard area after Johnson had given away possession to George McCartney.

The goal forced the visitors to be more open after the break but only two minutes in they were further behind. James Tomkins went through the back of Suarez and Gerrard's free-kick picked out Sakho at the far post. The France defender, making his first start since the November 2 defeat at Arsenal, completely fluffed his shot but did just enough to divert it goalwards and Collins could not keep it from crossing the line.

All done and dusted, you would have thought, but soon after Liverpool lost Gerrard to injury as he raced down the inside-right channel.

West Ham drew confidence from a sharp reflex save by Jaaskelainen to deny Sterling's first-time effort and then were handed a way back into the game when Skrtel scored his second own goal in a week after turning Jarvis' header past Mignolet.

That really cranked up the tension as the home side conceded the initiative and it was only wrested back thanks to Suarez. Glen Johnson produced the perfect shot for the striker to head home at the far post and then smashed what would have been a second against O'Brien, across goal then home via the crossbar.

Uncharacteristically he squandered the chance of scoring another late goal after rounding Jaaskelainen with five minutes to go, instead running the ball out of play.

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