Carroll header helps Hammers down Liverpool in 2016 PL opener
Lee Gormley | January 2, 2015
West Ham United 2-0 Liverpool
- Michail Antonio opened scoring with header after 10 minutes
- Manuel Lanzini taken off injured in first-half
- Andy Carroll nets clinical second-half header against former club
- Hammers summer signing Dimitri Payet returns from injury
West Ham halt Reds in 2016 opener
In the first Premier League game of 2016, West Ham United overcame Liverpool 2-0 at Upton Park, with goals from Michail Antonio and Andy Carroll giving Jurgen Klopp’s Reds the worst possible start to the New Year.
The Merseysiders’ top four ambitions were dealt a considerable hammer blow in the capital, with both goals coming from identical deliveries from the right wing, with the first being fired in by Antonio after just 10 minutes.
Former Anfield frontman Carroll then capped-off a great showing from Slaven Bilic’s east Londoners with a trademark second-half header from a Mark Noble delivery, as the hosts secured an impressive three points at home.
Antonio opens scoring for Hammers
At a rapturous Upton Park it was Liverpool that began brightest, with Jordan Ibe almost gifting them an early lead from wide right, as he unleashed a shot from the edge of the West Ham penalty area but it drifted by the bottom left corner.
Michail Antonio almost capitalised on impressive wingplay from teammate Manuel Lanzini after just eight minutes, as he lashed an effort narrowly wide of Simon Mignolet’s left post, giving Liverpool an early scare.
Although, the Hammers faithful had plenty to roar about moments later as Antonio pounced on a sublime cross from the right flank from close range to open the scoring. Enner Valencia’s pinpoint delivery from wide right couldn’t be dealt with by Dejan Lovren or Mamadou Sakho, as Antonio beat a goalkeeper who kept more league clean sheets than any other stopper last year.
The Reds continued to press with the ball after the goal, with Philippe Coutinho and Nathaniel Clyne pushing forward in search of an opening, but it was West Ham that looked more encouraging in possession, threatening at every opportunity with Lanzini and Cheikhou Kouyate.
Lanzini a constant threat
Lanzini linked up well with Valencia on the left flank to cause further threat to Klopp’s men after 16 minutes, with the on-loan Argentine beating Mignolet with a ferociously driven strike which crashed off the post.
West Ham were going full throttle in the first 20 minutes, with plenty of strong challenges flying in around the central areas, but Liverpool fought back as Lucas Leiva left Hammers skipper Noble on the floor and received a yellow card for his troubles.
Alberto Moreno was a positive outlet for the travelling Merseysiders down the left flank, with the Spaniard keeping James Tomkins and Antonio constantly busy. Though the Hammers nearly doubled their lead from that side of midfield after 29 minutes, as Valencia found space in the Reds’ penalty area but sent his shot sailing high and wide.
Hammers hold out for half-time lead
Ibe had been deployed in a defensive position in previous match-ups for Liverpool, but the English youngster was relishing a more attacking role in east London and was involved in an interesting wing battle with Aaron Cresswell.
Bilic’s first West Ham signing Pedro Obiang was introduced before the break to replace the injured Lanzini, after a short yet dazzling outing from the Argentine attacker. The hosts held out to lead at half-time, surviving a great strike from Emre Can which rattled off the crossbar.
Klopp sent his side out early following the break and they started swiftly, with Roberto Firmino getting on the ball and searching for lone-striker Christian Benteke from deep, though the Belgian was crowded out by James Collins and Angelo Ogbonna.
After 50 minutes played at Upton Park, Brazilian playmaker Firmino was again involved as he laid-off to Benteke, but the Reds frontman scuffed his close-range shot well wide of Adrian’s goal.
Carroll clinical against former club
Andy Carroll had been quiet so far against his former employers, though that all changed before the hour mark as he clinically fired in a typically thumping header off an identical cross to that which assisted the opener, this time from Noble.
Liverpool had it all to do with half an hour left in their visit to the capital and Klopp opted to bring on Adam Lallana and Australia wideman Brad Smith in a bid to bolster his attacking prowess and salvage something from the encounter.
Dimitri Payet was called upon in the second-half for the Hammers, as he made his welcome return to competitive action after a serious injury lay-off. Valencia had seemingly picked up an injury of his own in the opening minutes but battled on to set up his side’s opener, before Payet was cast into proceedings to replace him in the second period.
Carroll almost added his second goal of the game from a lovely Cresswell delivery from the left flank, but his diving header was thwarted by a strong hand from Mignolet this time around to spare Liverpool further misery.
Bilic’s boys held out for the remainder of the first Premier League clash of the New Year to gain a huge victory on home soil, kicking off 2016 in style and moving up to fifth position.
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