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    Liverpool 2-2 West Ham United Match Report

    Liverpool were unable to bounce back from last weekend's shock defeat at Bournemouth as they were held to an entertaining draw by West Ham at Anfield on Sunday.

    The defensive vulnerabilities that were a feature of their unravelling on the South Coast seven days earlier were evident once again as West Ham recovered from a early Adam Lallana goal to lead at half-time.

    The Hammers were unable to build on the advantage given to them by Michail Antonio but they did manage to hold out for a draw, which had looked unlikely once Divock Origi had equalised for Liverpool soon after the interval.

    Although the home side looked the most likely team to find a winner, they were restricted to very few chances in the second-half and were made to settle for a draw that leaves them six points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea.

    Liverpool went into the game eager to keep up their excellent run at Anfield that had seen them take 16 points from a possible 18 in 2016-17 but knew that The Hammers had proved difficult opponents in the past.

    Slaven Bilic's side achieved the double over Liverpool in the league last season, while they also held The Reds to a 0-0 draw in the FA Cup before beating them in the replay at Upton Park.

    Their assignment on Sunday was made all the tougher by the absence of Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and Emre Can through injury, although the club were boosted by the return of Adam Lallana and Joel Matip to their starting line-up.

    West Ham had their own motivation for success at Anfield, having been humbled by Arsenal at home eight days earlier and had started that day in the bottom three following Swansea's win over Sunderland on Saturday.

    The Irons welcomed Michail Antonio back into their starting XI as a makeshift centre-forward, while Aaron Cresswell, Andre Ayew and Havard Nordtveit all returned to enhance their chances of causing another upset at Anfield.

    Their hopes looked forlorn after five minutes, however, as Adam Lallana gave Liverpool an early lead when he latched onto Sadio Mane's left-wing cross before drilling the ball into the bottom corner with his left foot.

    The visitors responded well to their early set-back and nearly drew level when Winston Reid's long-ball put Antonio in-behind the Liverpool defence but the former Nottingham Forest man's strike from 12 yards was pushed away by Loris Karius.

    The Reds' defence managed to hold firm for 27 minutes but it was goalscorer Lallana whose reckless challenge on Pedro Obiang put their slender lead in jeopardy when he presented Dimitri Payet with a set-piece opportunity from customary range.

    The Frenchman duly capitalised, curling the free-kick over the wall and into the bottom-corner to beat Karius, who managed in vain to get a strong hand to the ball.

    Payet's equaliser seemed to take the wind out of Liverpool's sails after a fast start to the game, although the home side may have re-taken the lead had Firmino's scuffed effort found the corner of the goal instead of bobbling inches wide.

    West Ham's confidence from an attacking viewpoint began to grow before half-time and their improved ambition was rewarded when Antonio scored his seventh goal of the season to give the visitors a lead with five minutes of the half remaining.

    The 26-year-old latched onto Nordtveit's deflected cross-field pass before he coolly guided the ball with the outside of his right foot past the onrushing Karius from 12 yards.

    Liverpool tried unsuccessfully to equalise in the dying minutes of the half, firstly when Georginio Wijnaldum jinked past Manuel Lanzini before delivering a pinpoint cross which Firmino headed a yard wide.

    Deep into stoppage time, Adam Lallana was unfortunate not to have been awarded a penalty when he was bundled over by Payet, while Joel Matip crashed a header against the crossbar from Jordan Henderson's corner.

    West Ham's chances of achieving only a second win at Anfield in 53 years were boosted after the break when Dejan Lovren was withdrawn due to cramp, but any optimism seemed short-lived just three minutes into the second-half.

    Sadio Mane's left-wing cross was fumbled by Darren Randolph and Divock Origi was on hand to tap home from the edge of the six-yard box to score his fourth goal in as many games.

    Clear-cut chances were at a premium for the remainder of the match, but Liverpool nearly took the lead minutes when Wijnaldum's turned and powered a left-footed effort inches wide of Randolph's post.

    The game's highest moment of quality came midway through the half when Jordan Henderson unleashed a spectacular strike from 30 yards, which was curling towards the top corner before Randolph atoned for his earlier mistake by tipping the ball away at full-stretch.

    Liverpool huffed and puffed in the closing stages in a desperate attempt to find a winner but may have trailed instead had Karius not been such a commanding presence when punching the ball away from the incoming substitute Andy Carroll.

    Divock Origi had the last opportunity of the game but a poor first touch allowed Nordtveit and Reid to retreat as the Liverpool supporters appealed in vain for referee Mark Clattenburg to award a penalty.

    While the result leaves West Ham without a win in their last seven games, it will be more gratefully received by Slaven Bilic than his opposite number Jurgen Klopp given the recent fortunes of both sides.

    The visitors, who have climbed out of the bottom three, delivered a spirited and stubborn performance, responding well to going a goal behind and restricting Liverpool to very few clear-cut opportunities throughout the game.

    Bilic will hope that this result will be a building block in his club's quest for an upturn in form as they embark on a busy pre-Christmas programme that continues with home matches against Burnley and Hull City.

    Liverpool, meanwhile, failed to capitalise on a fast start and were once against plagued by the same defensive frailties that had reared their head in the latter stages of their defeat to Bournemouth.

    Loris Karius should have reached Payet's free-kick with a stronger hand to push the ball wide, while the Liverpool defence were nowhere to be seen when Antonio found himself all alone to score shortly prior to half-time.

    Even in attacking areas, the home side were not at their cohesive and free-flowing best and didn't test Darren Randolph enough throughout the match despite having 68 per cent of the possession.

    The Reds, who have fallen six points behind Chelsea and sit in third place, must respond to their latest setback when they return to Premier League action at the Riverside Stadium against Middlesbrough on Wednesday.
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool 2-2 West Ham United Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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