Sport Soccer

Monday 20 November 2017

Suarez turns the screw to crack Hammers

Liverpool 4 West Ham 1

Liverpool’s Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring
Liverpool’s Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring

Richard Jolly

Anyone mistaken enough to leave Anfield early yesterday may have departed feeling short-changed. A ticket tends to come with the guarantee of copious quantities of Luis Suarez goals, and after the feast, an 80-minute famine followed. Then Suarez struck to take his extraordinary haul at home to 10 goals in four games as Liverpool reeled off a fifth successive win on their own turf.

Compared to his spectacular efforts in Wednesday's 5-1 thrashing of Norwich, this one was comparatively mundane: a far-post header from Glen Johnson's cross. He also played a huge part in another goal –his shot deflecting in off Joey O'Brien's back, albeit after an exquisite display of trickery. Yet Suarez is combining quality and quantity in almost unparalleled fashion.

Should England be looking for any pointers on keeping him quiet ahead of their meeting with Uruguay in Sao Paulo on June 19, West Ham offered few.

Suarez was irrepressible and, eventually, they were eviscerated. Even when not applying the finishing touch himself, he has a capacity to contribute to Liverpool goals. The opener was a case in point. It was debited to Guy Demel, but Suarez nevertheless deserved much of the credit. The Uruguayan cushioned Johnson's pass on his knee and unleashed a half-volley.

While Jussi Jaaskelainen parried it, the ball bounced into the net off the unwitting Demel. He has a capacity to induce own goals. Five weeks earlier, Fulham's Fernando Amorebieta put the ball in his own net when, typically, the last Liverpool player to touch it had been the livewire Suarez.

The case to crown him the outstanding player in England grows by the game, which bodes badly for Roy Hodgson. Indeed, this was a fixture with a past to give the World Cup an added resonance. West Ham have not won at Anfield since 1963, when Alec Douglas-Home occupied 10 Downing Street, the Beatles were at No 1 and, more pertinently, the future World Cup winners Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters scored in a 2-1 triumph.

Like victories, goals have been elusive at Anfield for the Hammers.

Martin Skrtel inadvertently scored their first since 2006, although no West Ham player has registered one at the right end in that time. Modibo Maiga twice almost ended the drought; first, sliding, he could not quite connect with Mohamed Diame's enticing pass across goal and then he met Matt Jarvis's cross with a glancing header that drew a fine save from Simon Mignolet.

Nevertheless, Maiga has gone a year without a goal and the disparity in striking resources was highlighted by the visiting fans who, tongue in cheek, chorused: "Fuck Luis Suarez, we've got Carlton Cole".

They won't have Kevin Nolan for their next three games. The West Ham captain, a boyhood Liverpool fan, was dismissed for what was a malicious stamp on the back of Jordan Henderson's right leg. It symbolised how the Hammers, who almost held out until half-time, unravelled at the end.

Nevertheless, they were architects of their own downfall. The second goal was a case in point.

Steven Gerrard's far-post free-kick was met in rather unconvincing fashion by Mamadou Sakho. However, his miscued volley was bobbling in as James Collins tried to hook it clear and the ball went in via the underside of the bar. Given West Ham's reputation as set-piece specialists, it was a galling way to concede.

The deficit was then halved when Skrtel, who had scored an own goal at Hull six days earlier, repeated the feat, diverting Jarvis' header past Mignolet. While Suarez turned it into an emphatic win for the hosts, it could have been worse for the Hammers: Raheem Sterling squandered the chances to score a hat-trick.

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