After starting November by qualifying for the next stage of the UEFA Europa League with a 2-2 draw against KRC Genk three days ago, West Ham United built on the momentum gained from that match, as they then went on to end Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the season with a 3-2 win in Stratford on Sunday afternoon.
David Moyes named the same starting line-up that took all the points from Villa Park a week ago although he did have Ryan Fredericks available from the bench for the first time since the Carabao Cup victory at Manchester United on 22 September.
Although Jürgen Klopp’s men could only manage a draw at home to Brighton and Hove Albion in their last top-flight outing, many home fans would have thought that victory might be too much to ask but they could dream I suppose. Well, those dreams became reality just four minutes into the game when the Irons were awarded a corner.
A host of West Ham players all headed for the box as they looked to make it count. Pablo Fornals sent the set-piece over and it went into the net via goalkeeper Alisson Becker, sending the home end wild.
The visitors not only thought that the Brazilian stopper had been fouled but they also suggested that a handball incident might have occurred. VAR checked both of these instances but decided that nothing was wrong with either of them and the goal stood.
The system was in use again just minutes later when Aaron Cresswell put a high challenge in on Jordan Henderson but again, the technology decided that the defenders tackle was a fair one and backed referee Craig Pawson up.
On twenty two minutes, Moyes was forced into an early substitution as Angelo Ogbonna was caught by Diogo Jota elbow, meaning Craig Dawson replaced him.
The Reds then started to show what they could do after Dawson had entered the fray as they began piling on the pressure but the hosts’ defence stood firm.
That was until the forty first minute when Declan Rice was adjudged to have brought down Mohamed Salah and a free-kick was given. Trent Alexander-Arnold sent in one of his trademark efforts and it gave goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański no chance.
Given all the stoppages that occurred in the first-half, six minutes were added before the break and Liverpool would have been encouraged by that news. Just as Sadio Mané was about to pull the trigger, Dawson produced a crucial block.
Either side could have taken the advantage into the break as it was West Ham’s turn to fashion a late opportunity. Michail Antonio combined to good effect with Saïd Benrahma and the Algerian sent the former Nottingham Forrest player away but unfortunately, the frontman’s final touch was too heavy and the chance had gone.
The home side had one more chance to go back ahead before the half-time whistle was blown as Benrahma played in Jarrod Bowen but Virgil van Dijk blocked his route to goal.
Half-time arrived and the East Londoners went down the tunnel wondering if they could add to the successes they have recently had over Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.
Moyes’ men made a fast start to the second-half and almost regained the advantage when Fornals delivered another corner into the box. Declan Rice and Dawson rose to meet the set-piece and it was the former Watford defender whose effort hit the crossbar.
Chances were flowing for both sides in this game and Mané received the ball from Andrew Robertson’s cross but fortunately for the majority inside the stadium, the striker’s effort was easy for Fabiański to gather.
Salah fired over after Robertson had created another chance for the visitors, then Benrahma found himself in space and could have extended West Ham’s advantage but made a hash of the effort.
The hosts were well on top by this point and had two free-kicks in quick succession but unfortunately they weren’t able to make either of them count.
After he scored at Villa Park last weekend, Ben Johnson thought he’d try and get into the scoring act again but it didn’t come off for the defender this time, as his powerful shot went wide of the post.
Perhaps unfortunate to have the first goal of the afternoon taken from him, Fornals made sure he did get his name on the scoresheet when the Hammers went ahead again. Bowen ran into space and raced past the Liverpool defence before sliding the ball into the path of the Spaniard who directed it into the net past Becker.
Alexander-Arnold then teed up Jota at the far post but the Portuguese only found the side netting to the relief of the home faithful.
On seventy four minutes The Irons, who are renowned for their dangerous corners this season, won yet another from Antonio after he had raced past van Dijk. Bowen sent the set piece over and Kurt Zouma climbed highest to head the ball into the net with Becker once again not covering himself in glory.
Klopp had introduced Divock Origi in place of Jota in the seventy sixth minute and he found a way past Fabiański just seven minutes later. He volleyed past the Pole and Liverpool still had time to grab an unlikely point.
In fact, they nearly did just that but Mané somehow managed to head wide, following a free-kick from Alexander-Arnold.
Having just seen his side concede for a second time, Moyes made a change on eighty four minutes, as Vladimír Coufal replaced Bowen and soon after they made use of their last substitution, when Arthur Masuaku came on for Benrahma.
When the final whistle blew, West Ham were finally able to celebrate a first ever win against the Reds in Stratford. They can head into November’s international break with their heads held high and look forward to the upcoming Premier League fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux on November 20.