WEST HAM 1 – 2 LIVERPOOL: Two Gerrard Penalties Give Reds Victory OVER Hammers.

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Liverpool were somewhat saved by two Steven Gerrard penalties after West Ham produced a battling display to frustrate the title chasing Reds.

The two sides started in boisterous fashion with a high tempo set early on in what the Hammers set out to turn into a real physical contest.

It was gripping action as the two sides were going blow for blow in the early stages without ever really stretching either goalkeeper.

For all their goal-scoring fluency, SAS were visibly flustered and struggled to make any mark on the game, dropping deeper in search of the ball as West Ham hassled and harangued their opponents by cutting off the supply line to the strikers.

Suarez found a curling effort from the corner of the box, but Adrian looked to get a slight touch, just enough to carry what looked like a goal-bound strike on to the bar.

It would be Suarez again who would be key to breaking the stalemate, running at James Tomkins from a wide position only for the West Ham man to be penalised when the Uruguayan’s cross struck his outstretched arm.

The defender would protest, but there was little argument to be had as replays suggested his hand had moved towards the ball.

Steven Gerrard made no mistake from the penalty to give Liverpool what looked to be a certain half time lead and the boost they desperately needed.

There was, however, to be a further twist in the tale before the break as Guy Demel took a golden opportunity as Simon Mignolet spilled his attempted claim from corner into the West Ham man’s path.

Liverpool’s players were immediately up in arms and gestured to the linesman who appeared to have his flag raised for an offside decision.

From the replays it was clear what the Reds were upset about. Andy Carroll had been causing his former employers a headache all game and appeared to foul Mignolet as the Belgian came to catch the ball, yanking on his arm and striking him with a flailing elbow.

After prolonged consultation between referee Anthony Taylor and his assistant, the goal was allowed to stand and Liverpool went into the half time aggrieved that their precious lead was wiped away.

The early stages of the second half saw the same pattern of play, albeit with West Ham more comfortable to soak up pressure and take advantage of Andy Carroll with quick breaking long balls.

Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling showed brief glimpses of the interplay that has helped Liverpool get to the brink of the title, but all in all their performances were disappointing. Liverpool were made to toil for their second goal, and it wasn’t until the 70th minute that they were given another golden opportunity.

Goalkeeper Adrian was harshly adjudged to have brought down the overlapping Jon Flanagan when replays appeared to suggest that the keeper had got a glove to the ball before going through the young full back.

He was booked for his demonstrative protests and Gerrard, despite going the other way, fired home what would turn out to be Liverpool’s winner.

The goal seemed to spark the Reds back into life somewhat, and West Ham looked less comfortable soaking up pressure as Sam Allardyce threw on Carlton Cole and Antonio Nocerino as he desperately looked for a way back into the game.

Liverpool would test Adrian with more regularity in the closing stages, but the Spanish keeper was more than a match at close range and produced a great save in the dying moments.

As the referee blew the whistle for the end of the match, the relief was visible on the faces of Liverpool’s staff and players as they will count themselves lucky after once again failing to exert any real dominance over a bottom ten team.

West Ham will take heart in the performance if not the result and Sam Allardyce will be looking to future games against Palace and West Brom to earn the couple of points they need to guarantee safety.

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