Reds Break Hammers Unbeaten Record
By Tom Dowsett
Monday 15 May 2017 18:03:00
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Before Sunday afternoon, Slaven Bilic had not lost to Liverpool as manager of West Ham United, but unfortunately the euphoria of the game against Tottenham Hotspur had evaporated when the Reds beat them 4-0 in Stratford.

With regular skipper Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyaté unavailable through injury, the manager made two changes with Havard Nordtveit and Edimilson Fernandes replacing the two midfielders.

The Hammers wanted to put in one last performance to send their fans home for the summer on a high and they had a great chance in the early stages, but unfortunately Sam Byram fired wide after Jonathan Calleri had made the space for him to try his luck.

Minutes later, Jürgen Klopp's men had an even better opportunity when Philippe Coutinho's corner was met by Joël Matip but, fortunately for the home faithful, his unchallenged header smacked the crossbar.

The action was end to end by this point and although Fernandes worked goalkeeper Simon Mignolet's reflexes, they found it hard to cope with the pressure once the visitors had found their rhythm.

Coutinho went for glory but fired over, however, it was just a matter of time before their pressure eventually paid.

Since being restored to the starting line-up against Everton in mid April, Adrian was yet to concede a goal. 

That record was broken on 35 minutes, when a defensive mixup allowed Daniel Sturridge to race through and put his side ahead after he latched onto James Milner's superb pass.

André Ayew had a golden opportunity to equalise just before the break, but he managed to hit the post twice when it would have been easier to score.

Referee Neil Swarbrick's half-time whistle was met with muted boos from the home fans as the teams went back to the dressing rooms.

However, matters weren't about to get much better for the Irons when the second-half got underway.

Although the scoreline was kept down to one, Bilic wasn't happy with the way his team were playing and decided to make a double change by bringing on Sofiane Feghouli and Ashley Fletcher in place of José Fonte and Calleri.

On 57 minutes, striker Georginio Wijnaldum worried the majority inside the stadium when his 20-yard volley hit the bar, but the danger hadn't passed and Coutinho picked up possession and shot past a helpless Adrian from the corner of the box.

It seemed that one wasn't enough for the Brazilian, who swiftly helped himself to a second and Liverpool's third when he eased past two West Ham players before beating the Spaniard again.

The East Londoners were appealing for a freekick as stand-in captain Winston Reid appeared to be hit in the face in the build-up to the goal.

Liverpool were still applying pressure in their search for a fourth. They were within inches of getting it when Divock Origi sent a long-range shot towards goal but once again it hit the bar.

On 76 minutes, West Ham made their final change, as Robert Snodgrass replaced Ayew. 

Seconds later, the Reds completed the rout, as Adrian was forced into a save before the ball fell into the path of Wijnaldum, who unselfishly set up Origi to add his second and finish West Ham off.

It was clear that the end of season lap of honour wasn't going to be watched by a full crowd, as a lot of them had seen enough with well over ten minutes left.

The boos were even louder when the final whistle sounded, as the first season at Stratford ended in disappointment.

The East Londoners haven't won a final days fixture since 2013 and they will be looking to buck that trend when they go to Turf Moor and face newly-promoted Burnley on Sunday afternoon.


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