Sport

Salah helped Liverpool to victory over West Ham

The two sides went into the game with their respective managers facing questions about their futures but it was home boss Slaven Bilic who would become the butt of the ‘sacked in the morning’ chants at the full-time whistle.

The visitors almost took the lead with barely two minutes on the clock when Mohamed Salah’s free kick from the left found Roberto Firmino at the far post but Joe Hart was alert to make a good save from close range.

West Ham responded well to their early wobble though and went within inches of taking the lead after 9 minutes. The lively Manuel Lanzini set Andre Ayew away over in behind and he looked to lift the ball over the advancing Simon Mignolet, only to see his effort go behind via the post.

Despite a solid spell, West Ham were undone in the first half by two moments of defensive sloppiness that came just three minutes apart. Firstly, a ruthless counter from a West Ham corner saw Salah play the ball around the corner to the returning Sadio Mane. The Senegalese carried the ball almost half the length of the field before squaring to Salah, who duly slotted pat Hart from 12 yards to give the visitors the lead.

Before the away contingent at the London Stadium had had chance to retake their seats they were celebrating again. Salah’s corner from the left was inadvertently directed goalwards by Mark Noble and whilst Hart managed to get down to keep it out, he could only palm the ball straight to Joel Matip who made no mistake from four yards.

That was it for the goalmouth action in the first half as West Ham looked anything but a side capable of getting back into the game.

Andy Carroll was thrown into the mix at the break by Bilic and West Ham looked to have found a way back into the game with 55 minutes on the clock when Andre Ayew picked out Lanzini at the far post. Joe Gomez got caught under the cross, allowing the Argentine to chest the ball down and lift the ball over Mignolet to give the hosts a lifeline.

That lifeline lasted all of 60 seconds as Liverpool hit back immediately. Firmino was allowed to turn far too easily in the middle of the park and he broke forward before feeding Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain down the right. His first effort was saved by Hart but the former Arsenal man was alert to tuck in the rebound to restore Liverpool’s two-goal cushion.

That cushion was almost halved immediately in what was a frantic period of football. Carroll fed Lanzini down the left but he could only lift an effort over the bar with his left foot when he really ought to have done better.

Firmino was also guilty of wasting a golden chance after he stole in ahead of Reid and raced clear, only to drag his shot wide of the far post.

Fortunately for the Brazilian, his team-mate would make everyone forget about that miss with a fine goal to put Liverpool three goals to the good.

Mohamed Salah was the man in question. Liverpool had looked dangerous on the counter all afternoon but often lacked the final pass. That wasn’t an issue on this occasion though as the Egyptian lashed the ball across Hart and into the far corner from just inside the box to hand Liverpool the points and further ramp up the pressure on Slaven Bilic.

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