Eurosport - Mon, 19 Apr 21:54:00 2010
Liverpool kept their slim top-four hopes alive and added more pressure on West Ham with a 3-0 Premier League win at Anfield.
Former West Ham player Yossi Benayoun, French striker David NGog and an unfortunate Robert Green own-goal gave the Reds a comfortable win in their first game front of new chairman Martin Broughton.
It should have been a thrashing and probably would had Fernando Torres not been ruled out for the season run-in, as Liverpool dominated a woeful Hammers side devoid or organisation or spirit.
The win puts Liverpool sixth, a point ahead of Aston Villa, and three and five behind Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur respectively, although all three have a game in hand each with three left for the Reds.
Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola, meanwhile, finds his side three points above the drop zone, with third-bottom Hull City also boasting a game in hand although hampered by a 19-goal deficit on the East London side.
Most worryingly though was the meek manner in which Zola’s team conceded defeat, losing every battle there was to be won and barely registering an effort on target.
Both created superb early chances but Maxi Rodriguez could not convert Benayoun’s pass while Gerrard’s wicked cross was just shy of Dirk Kuyt with Green flapping.
They went ahead on 19 minutes thanks to a combination of the midfield duo: Gerrard swung in a quick free-kick that caught the Hammers defence napping, with Upton Park old boy Benayoun on hand to put the ball in off the post with his stomach.
Sotirios Kyrgiakos somehow put a free-header into the ground and over before NGog doubled the lead, hitting a snap finish in off Green after a superb first-time cross by Maxi, who had been freed by an excellent Benayoun pass.
West Ham were not at the races, clearly missing the suspended Scott Parker as their midfield lacked any organisation or competitive edge.
Liverpool were playing within themselves but still cutting West Ham to shreds, Gerrard, NGog and Kuyt all going close before a rotten slice of luck saw Green put the ball into his own net, Kyrgiakos’s finish coming off the post and rebounding against the England keeper.
The latter stages of the match were largely uneventful, Liverpool subbing Gerrard, Benayoun and NGog ahead of the Europa League trip to Atletico Madrid, as the sides played out the last half hour in front of a dwindling crowd.