Hammers Lose Out in Liverpool Battle
By Tom Dowsett
Tuesday 25 Feb 2020 16:04:00
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West Ham United were unfortunate to leave Anfield with nothing on Monday night after they were beaten 3-2 by Premier League leaders Liverpool, despite a spirited performance.

Many would have thought that Pablo Zabaleta was the obvious choice to replace Ryan Fredericks for this encounter after he sustained a shoulder injury at Manchester City last Wednesday night. However, David Moyes decided to spring a surprise and hand Jeremy Ngakia only his second start for the club with the Scotsman making one other change to his starting line-up as Arthur Masuaku missed the game due to illness. 

It looked as if West Ham were in for a tough night when the action got underway, as their resistance was tested after just six minutes. Thankfully for those in the away end though, Andrew Robertson's attempt failed to beat visiting goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański.

Jürgen Klopp's men did have the ball in the net just three minutes later however, as Georginio Wijnaldum scored after Fabiański made an uncharacteristic error after failing to deal with the Dutchman's header.

Both teams had started the game well and although the visitors had fallen behind early, it didn't take them long to respond. They were quickly back on level terms, when Issa Diop who has been in on the goalscoring act recently was at it again. Alisson Becker was definitely at fault as the Frenchman headed past him Following a succession of corners.

Momentum was definitely with the Hammers after finding the leveller and their set-piece routines were causing the home side problems. Another corner kick from Robert Snodgrass was headed on and the ball dropped to Michail Antonio who found himself in the clear, only for Becker to claim the ball.

Diop could have helped himself to a second goal after
Tomáš Souček sent another threatening corner in his direction but as he challenged for the ball, the linesman unfortunately raised his flag.

The visitors survived a scare as Reds' Captain Virgil van Dijk hit the bar with a header before the break.

Given the start that the Irons had to this game, they must have been pretty pleased to go down the tunnel with nothing separating the two sides.

Souček appeared to suffer an injury just two minutes after the restart so this forced Moyes into his first change with Pablo Fornals replacing the Czech.

The Hammers were without an away win in 2020 going into this game and on fifty five minutes they stunned the home crowd by going in front when Fornals beat Becker to send the travelling support wild after Captain Mark Noble and Declan Rice had combined well to set him up.

After a further ten minutes, the East Londoners made their second change with Sébastien Haller entering the fray in place of Anderson.

It was now Liverpool's turn to find an equaliser but the visitors were determined not to give up the lead easily. Ngakia produced a superb challenge to prevent
Sadio Mané from turning the game on its head once again, before Trent Alexander-Arnold was thwarted by a superb fingertip save from Fabiański.

After that piece of brilliance, the Pole was unfortunately beaten again when Mohamed Salah's tame shot went through the goalkeeper's legs, meaning the game was back in the balance.

Fabiański was at his best to deny Salah a second on the volley before he was given no chance with Sadio Mané's effort in the closing stages.

Mané thought he had given the hosts breathing space before VAR had correctly ruled him offside. That wasn't the end of the drama however, as Jarrod Bowen, who'd been thrown into the action to replace Snodgrass, almost insured that his side left with a draw but unfortunately, he couldn't beat Becker.

They may have been defeated again but West Ham can certainly take the positives from this performance into Saturday's crucial home game against Southhampton.

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