It was tense, it was tight, but eventually Liverpool emerged with a 3-2 victory over West Ham United in a topsy-turvy affair at Anfield that saw the lead change hands three times. Goals from Georginio Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané cancelled out strikes from Issa Diop and Pablo Fornals on a day to forget for the goalkeepers.
Jürgen Klopp made one change from the side that fell midweek to Atlético Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano, with Naby Keïta being brought in to replace the injured skipper Jordan Henderson.
Prior to kick off, Anfield rose to applause as the Reds and their visitors honoured the recent passing of former midfielder Brian Jackson who, between 1951 and 1958, made 125 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 12 in the process.
The game kicked off following the applause with Liverpool starting in true Klopp fashion, pressing high, and suffocating their opponents.
It didn’t take the Reds long to get ahead with Gini Wijnaldum heading home in the opening eight minutes.
Roberto Firmino latched onto a loose ball in the West Hame box only to see his effort blocked and roll seemingly out for a corner. With the majority of players stopped, Trent Alexander-Arnold rushed towards the outward bound ball and managed to dig out a curling cross towards the head of Wijnaldum. The Dutchman rose unchallenged and glanced his header into the bottom corner and past Łukasz Fabiański.
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Despite their rapid start, the Reds weren’t able to enjoy their lead for long as the visitors nodded themselves level through Issa Diop in the 12th minute.
A string of West Ham corners saw the visitors apply some rare pressure, with the French centre-back losing Joe Gomez at the second attempt to catch Alisson out at his near post. 1-1.
Klopp’s men responded well to being pegged back by the visitors, quickly regaining control of the match and testing Fabiański through a Mohamed Salah effort that looked destined for the top corner.
A barrage of efforts continued to rain down on the West Ham goal for the remainder of the half, with a host of Reds getting on the end of chances only to see their attempts foiled by Fabiański, sail inches wide or, in the case of Virgil van Dijk, cannon off the crossbar.
The second half saw much of the same from the home side in regards to the pressure they were applying on the visitors, however, West Ham showed an added resilience and calmness under pressure resulting in David Moyes’ men taking the lead in the 55th minute.
Having been introduced at half-time, Pablo Fornals stepped up to become the man to fire the Hammers ahead as he latched onto a Declan Rice cross and swept the ball across goal and past an outstretched Alisson. Anfield fell momentarily silent, but the Liverpool quickly jeered up as they looked to fire up the side.
The Reds responded in typical fashion to going behind and quickly reapplied the pressure on their visitors, in particular along the back line and Fabiański who had to claw away a long distance Alexander-Arnold effort as the corner count continued to rise.
It wasn’t long until Liverpool were back on level terms through Mohamed Salah in the 68th minute. The Egyptian had luck to thank following an absolute howler from Fabiański.
A searching long ball by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain found the marauding Andrew Robertson down the left-wing who controlled the pass and burst into the box. The flying Scotsman lifted his head and drilled it towards Salah who directed his effort goalward. The forward turned in frustration as the ball seemingly went straight to Fabiański, but the Polish shot-stopper misjudged the effort and allowed it to squirm underneath him.
The goal only seemed to spur the home side on, as the league leaders ramped up the pressure yet again as they went in search of a winner.
As they have shown throughout the season, Liverpool are nothing if not resilient, and the Reds proved it yet again when Sadio Mané, who had been kept quiet all game, tapped in the third.
A speculative effort from Gomez deflected off Mark Noble and into the path of Alexander-Arnold. The flying full-back beat Fabiański to the ball and lifted it across the face of goal towards the unmarked Mané who netted what is most likely the easiest goal of his career.
Mané had the ball in the back of the net minutes later following a similar phase of play, but VAR intervened and the score remained 3-2 after he was spotted to be offside as Alexander-Arnold laid off the ball for him once again.
The Reds are next in action on February 29 when they will look to claim their 19th Premier League win in a row away at Watford.