Liverpool edge out Hammers in thriller
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 20 Sep 2009 12:00:00
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West Ham United were eventually undone by a Fernando Torres strike in a pulsating game at Upton Park on Saturday. It was clear before the match began that there was anticipation around the ground as fans of both clubs, facing Tube station closures, were walking from as far as Canning Town to get to the game.

From the start it was clear to see why they had made the effort.West Ham started the brighter, with Zavon Hines hitting the post from a Jamie Carragher mistake before Liverpool had two chances of their own as former Hammer Yossi Benayoun and Emiliano Insua both went close. The Hammers resistance was broken on 20 minutes when Fernando Torres got the first of his brace after outpacing James Tomkins before seeing the ball home.
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Just before the half hour, Hammers' boss Gianfranco Zola's task was made harder by injuries to Matthew Upson and Valon Behrami, who was in the starting line up for the first time since March- both going off within minutes of each other. Danny Gabbidon and Radoslav Kovac were sent on as replacements. Then Hines and Carragher were again involved when the youngster eased past Carragher before being brought down, resulting in a penalty.Allessandro Diamanti stepped up to take the kick but appeared to touch the ball with both feet although he slipped in the process- the ball still going past Jose Reina. Zavon Hines was in again minutes before half time but this time Martin Skrtel's foul on the striker went unpunished before Liverpool regained the lead four minutes before the break, Benayoun's corner headed goalwards by Gerrard for Dirk Kuyt to get the final touch and put his side ahead. But the Hammers still refused to give up as Diamanti had a free kick which he fired narrowly wide, then Mark Noble's corner caused problems for Liverpool's defence as Carlton Cole outjumped both Torres and Skrtel to head home.

With the second half struggling to live up to the first, it was Diamanti who had the first clear cut Hammers chance when his swerving corner forced Reina into a good save at full stretch. West Ham's push for a winner saw Diamanti replaced by Kieron Dyer but it was Liverpool who found the vital breakthrough. Rafael Benitez sent on Ryan Babel for Kuyt and he was on hand to set up the winner as first Glen Johnson saw his shot blocked by Gabbidon, then Babel picked up the loose ball and crossed for Torres to head in. West Ham responded well but could not find an equaliser as I for one, even though the Hammers had lost, said afterwards that it was the best game I had ever seen. 

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