Liverpool earned a solid 2-0 victory over West Ham at Anfield on Saturday afternoon, with Daniel Sturridge scoring on his first game back from injury. Raheem Sterling scored the opener.
Liverpool 2-0 West Ham
Premier League – Anfield – Saturday, 31st January 2015
Goals: Sterling (50), Sturridge (80)
Brendan Rodgers made just one change from the side that lost 1-0 to Chelsea in the League Cup on Tuesday evening, with Adam Lallana replacing Steven Gerrard. It is likely the skipper will start in the FA Cup replay against Bolton on Tuesday instead.
The big news, however, was the return to the squad of star man Sturridge after appearing just three times this season. He started on the bench, but was to have a key contribution on the day.
Lallana and Lazar Markovic both almost struck early on in front of a freezing cold Kop, but it was a relatively low-key opening to proceedings. West Ham looked more confident than Hammers sides of the past that have visited Anfield.
Jordan Henderson fired straight at Adrian after 18 minutes, and the West Ham goalkeeper then denied Philippe Coutinho soon after, following a superb one-two with Sterling.
Sam Allardyce’s men threatened aerially a few times, and ex-Red Andy Carroll was in typically robust form, clashing with both Emre Can and Markovic. The latter missed a glorious chance seconds before the interval, shooting wide with the goal at his mercy.
It had been a fairly forgettable first-half, in truth, and at half-time it was deadlocked at 0-0.
There were no changes at the break, as the Reds tried to score their first goal in almost 300 minutes of football.
In the 50th minute that drought was broken, and Liverpool were ahead. Sterling scored his eighth goal of the season, slotting coolly past Adrian after a brilliant pass by Coutinho.
It was a big goal for the hosts, and once again highlighted both the Englishman and Brazilian’s importance to Liverpool.
The in-form Coutinho tested Adrian just after the hour mark, and Jordan Henderson drove wide minutes later. Midway through the second-half, Sturridge was introduced to a huge ovation.
The 25-year-old couldn’t quite connect with a header after 78 minutes, in what was his first chance of note, and a hushed Anfield embraced themselves for a tense finale.
Sturridge put the game to bed in front of the overjoyed home faithful just two minutes later, however, finishing clinically at the near post with his right foot. It was a wonderful moment for the England striker.
Substitute Jordan Ibe forced Adrian into a save, and Sturridge couldn’t convert the rebound, as Liverpool bossed the remainder of proceedings.
The final whistle blew, confirming another win for Rodgers’ men as their impressive run of form continues. Sturridge’s return and goal capped of a fine afternoon’s work, and a top-four Premier League finish remains a genuine aim.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Can, Skrtel, Sakho, Markovic (Sturridge 68), Lucas, Henderson, Moreno, Lallana, Coutinho (Ibe 81), Sterling.
Subs not used: Ward, Johnson, Lambert, Allen, Borini
West Ham starting XI: Adrian, O’Brien, Collins, Reid, Cresswell, Song, Amalfitano, Nolan, Downing, Carroll, Valencia.
Referee: Andre Marriner