West Ham 1
Kuyt (46), Crouch (53)
West Ham: Carroll, Spector, Dailly, Davenport, McCartney, Benayoun, Reo-Coker, Quashie, Boa Morte, Cole (Zamora 73), Harewood (Kepa 76).
Subs Not Used: Green, Pantsil, Mullins.
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Agger, Carragher, Bellamy (Gonzalez 85), Gerrard, Alonso, Riise, Kuyt (Fowler 90), Crouch (Pennant 71).
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Zenden.
“If you’ve made a lot of money from biscuits buy our club” (to the tune of the Jacobs Club commercial) is the West Ham fans tribute to new chairman Eggert Magnússon. Metaphorically speaking the new chairman hasn’t been backward in coming forward with the “garibaldis” to support Alan Curbishley’s new tea party. However he must be wondering if he will ever get a return on his money. Last night his team were well and truly dunked.
Liverpool began with the formation they’d used against Wigan and, more recently, Watford. Is this Benitez’s “playing a struggling team” formation? For the record it was three centre backs, three forwards and four in midfield.
We began confidently and almost got on the scoresheet after five minutes when McCartney just prevented Crouch from slotting home Kuyt’s excellent through ball. Jamie Carragher of all people then blasted over a Gerrard’s free kick. Alonso then put through Crouch just inside the area. He fell but it was a stumble, no penalty. Benitez however, felt the need to come out in sympathy by, forgive the poetic license, dramatically hurling himself to the ground when retrieving the ball!
Liverpool were getting loads of possession and into good positions. We looked dangerous and it was pretty to watch but in reality Carroll in the West Ham goal was not troubled. Half an hour soon gone, dominant, but no shots on goal. If it was a boxing match we would have been ahead on points without unduly injuring or troubling the opponent!
As happens in football West Ham then had the best chances of the half! Reo-Coker’s daisy cutter was easily collected by Reina but then Harewood’s long range effort needed the Spaniard’s fingertips to nudge the ball past the post to safety.
Half time 0-0 and Bonnie Tyler “serenaded” the fans. For all our dominance we still “needed a hero” we didn’t have long to “hold out” for one.
Before the half time tea had cooled we were ahead.From the kick off Alonso pumps the ball to Crouch some 25 yards out. Crouch knocks it sideways to Kuyt who lashes it home via the underside of the cross bar. It took longer for me to write this description than it did to score the goal! The official time was 10 seconds!
Relief all around and we looked even more confident on the ball. Lots of excellent first touches and plenty of passes almost as if we had fourteen men on the pitch as there was always someone in space. The second was no surprise. Gerrard to Alonso, Alonso to Gerarrd, killer pass to Bellamy, Bellamy to Riise, Riise to Crouch on “d” of the penalty area, a superb side foot shot past Carroll. Easy, easy easy and happy 26th birthday Peter Crouch!
West Ham looked down and out and this showed in their play. Kuyt released Finnan who found Bellamy, ever more determined to score as his two striking colleagues had found the net, who shot past Carroll’s right hand post. Then Davenport and Dailly almost granted the Welshmen his wish by almost letting him in after bout of “gentlemen’s excuse” me in the box! Bellamy also showed how unselfish he has become since joining us but feeding Kuyt’s excellent run round the back of Dailly. Carroll did well to hang on to the Dutchman’s shot.
After 76 minutes, and very much against the run of play, West Ham scored. Pennant lost possession in midfield to Zamora. Kepa converted his cross at Reina’s near post. This was only the second league goal we’ve conceded since November.
After this we visibly lost it. We retreated into our own half and surrendered massive tracts of midfield. Rather that try to get hold of the ball and take the sting out of the game we let West Ham come at us and indulge in a session of defense verses attack. Alonso did find time to arrow a lovely straight volley at Carroll but in all honesty West Ham, for all their renewed endeavor, never really troubled us.
Not quiet a “Total Eclipse” of the Hammers but certainly miles away from a “Heartache”.
The run goes on. Over to you Chelsea.
Meanwhile it appears that there is a new twist in the take over bid with the board delaying the decision on the DIC takeover to consider George Gillett Jr’s offer. More later.