Liverpool tasted defeat for the first time this season as they lost 3-0 against West Ham on a disappointing afternoon at Anfield in which both teams ended with 10 men.
Liverpool 0–3 West Ham United
Premier League – Anfield – Saturday 29th August 2015
Goals: Manuel Lanzini (3), Mark Noble (30)
Brendan Rodgers named the very same XI and substitutes that earned a well-deserved point at the Emirates Stadium for the visit of Slaven Bilic’s men.
Bilic made two changes to his XI that lost 4-3 to Bournemouth last weekend.
James Tomkins came into the side at right back in place of the suspended Carl Jenkinson, while Manuel Lanzini replaced the released Kevin Nolan.
The Reds made a nightmare start at an expectant Anfield, falling behind after just three minutes.
Dimitri Payet’s cross was met by a poor defensive header from Martin Skrtel, which found the arriving Cresswell, whose cross-come-shot was tapped home by Lanzini from close range to silence the Kop.
Liverpool had conceded for the first time this season, but they almost hit-back instantly through Firmino’s left-footed thunderbolt which smashed against the Anfield Road end goal-frame.
The Reds were in control despite trailing, but the Hammers continued to look dangerous going forward – and Lanzini almost doubled the lead but shot wide from the edge of the box after a driving run went unchallenged.
Another break-away from the visitors from a Liverpool corner ended with Cresswell firing into the Kop from 15-yards out – it was a warning for Rodgers’ side who found themselves 2-0 down moments later.
Dreadful control from Dejan Lovren for the second time in quick succession saw him robbed on the by-line by goal-scorer Lanzini, and after the Argentine drove inside and crossed, causing chaos in the boox, the ball fell kindly to Noble who slotted home.
Heads began to drop in the Liverpool side, who looked lost as to how to break down a deep, stubborn defensive guard from Bilic’s men, and the visitors headed in at the interval two goals up.
But there was little time for the changes to make an impact, as Philippe Coutinho was dismissed for a sliding challenge, picking up a second yellow card, on the lively Payet – killing off all momentum the Reds began to build.
Despite the man advantage, the Hammers continued to sit deep and a frustrated Lovren fired a 35-yard effort which forced a good save from Darren Randolph as the Anfield crowd came to life.
Danny Ings replaced Firmino on the hour mark, and the incoming striker took no time to get involved.
He set-up Milner with a clever touch for a strike on goal which the Captain dragged wide, before a neat exchange with Benteke almost got Ings in on goal.
Kouyate then struck from distance but it was an easy save for Mignolet – who then produced a strong stop at his near post from Cresswell with 15 minutes remaining.
Jordon Ibe was introduced for Joe Gomez as the Reds switched to a 4-2-3 formation, a minute before goal-scorer Noble was sent off for a needless lunge on Ings.
With eight minutes to go, Liverpool’s best chance of the game fell to Lovren for some sort of redemption, but the Croatian couldn’t finish from Benteke’s towering header.
Seven minutes were painfully added on, and Diafra Sakho added a third in injury time slotting past Mignolet at his near post – compounding the Reds’ misery.
It was an eventful but hugely disappointing afternoon at Anfield and Rodgers’ men must pick themselves up ahead of the trip to Old Trafford after the international break.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Gomez (Ibe 77′); Lucas, Milner, Can (Moreno 45′); Firmino (Ings 60′), Coutinho; Benteke
Subs not used: Bogdan, Sakho, Rossiter, Origi
West Ham: Randolph, Tomkins, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble, Obiang, Kouyate, Lanzini (Oxford 82′), Payet (Jarvis 88′), Sakho (Cullen 96′)
Subs not used: Spiegel, Lee, Samuelsen, Knoyle
Referee: Kevin Friend
FAN REACTION: “From horrible to a nightmare”
PLAYER RATINGS: Lots of 5 out of 10 performances