07.12.2013 18:45 h

Football: West Ham gifts send Liverpool up to second

Bunn am Boden
Bunn am Boden

Luis Suarez inspired Liverpool to a 4-1 victory over West Ham United at Anfield on Saturday that sent his side up to second place in the Premier League table.

The Uruguayan striker got his 14th Premier League goal of the season to kill off the game after Martin Skrtel's own goal had given the Hammers hope despite a Guy Demel own goal and a Mamadou Sakho effort putting Liverpool 2-0 ahead.

Suarez was also the instigator for the fourth goal, as his effort was turned in by Joey O'Brien late on for the third own goal of the encounter.

Coupled with Chelsea's defeat at Stoke City and Manchester City's 1-1 draw at Southampton, the victory lifted Brendan Rodgers's side into second place, above Chelsea on goal difference.

Following his four-goal spectacular in Wednesday's 5-1 demolition of Norwich City, and after Friday's World Cup draw paired England with Uruguay in Group D, all eyes were inevitably on Suarez.

The former Ajax hitman posed an early threat for the Reds, but a lofted effort sailed harmlessly over West Ham's goal.

The Hammers have not won at Anfield since 1963, but they had a chance to take a surprise early lead in the ninth minute when Mohamed Diame threaded through a ball for Modibo Maiga, but the forward could not get his toe on the end of it.

Liverpool's response was predictable, with a sublime pass from Philippe Coutinho finding Suarez, but for once this season his finishing let him down and West Ham goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen comfortably saved.

The hosts were quick to attack from a Simon Mignolet throw as Raheem Sterling was sent free down the wing to cross for Jordan Henderson, but Diame raced back to deflect away what looked like a certain goal.

Liverpool have only lost once at home this season, but they showed rare signs of vulnerability at the back and goalkeeper Mignolet had to pull off a good save to deny Maiga in the 20th minute.

As the game settled down, so did West Ham's defence and Sam Allardyce's men were doing a good job of blocking up the midfield and limiting their hosts to long-range attempts.

Liverpool found an opening just before the break, however, as Glen Johnson nodded down for Suarez, who fired goalwards. Jaaskelainen was able to save, but Demel inadvertently bundled the rebound over his own line.

West Ham's hopes of getting a rare victory were compromised further just two minutes into the second half.

Steven Gerrard swung in a deep free-kick that Sakho turned goalwards and despite West Ham defender James Collins's best attempt at a swiping clearance, the ball went over the line.

Jaaskelainen was not facing severe pressure as West Ham's resilience appeared to be broken, but the West Ham goalkeeper got down well to deny Coutinho just before the hour mark.

Sterling should have added a third when Jordan Henderson unselfishly dragged the ball back into his path, but he scuffed his effort over from about 12 yards out; much to the frustration of the home fans.

Then, against the run of play, West Ham were gifted a way back into the game with 25 minutes remaining as Demel's cross was headed back across goal by Matthew Jarvis and Skrtel toed it into his own goal.

But Suarez would finally get his goal with nine minutes remaining as he powered in Johnson's cross with his head to restore Liverpool's two-goal advantage.

It killed off West Ham's hopes of nicking a point and the visitors then saw captain Kevin Nolan sent off for raking his studs down Henderson's calf.

Suarez was not finished though, as he bamboozled George McCartney on the edge of the area before firing in off the thigh of O'Brien.