West Ham were right to go into this match confident coming off their 3-1 home win against Chelsea, and now looking to topple Liverpool who are on a strong climb up the table and looking to break into the top half of the table since May 2012. Lee Probert was the official on the pitch for this affair at Upton Park.
The first ten minutes of the match was a back and forth struggle of the counter attacks with promising finishes, but it wasn’t until the 11th minute that the ice was broken by ex-Hammer Glen Johnson.
Johnson made a run from the right wing to the top of the 18 yard box where he curled a beauty over Jussi Jääskeläinen’s head into the top left corner of the goal for his first goal of the season.
The relentless attack did not let up with attacking runs coming into the box from Johnson and shots raining down from Jonjo Shelvey and Raheem Sterling.
Very early action from the bench as Joe Cole was seen warming up and receiving instructions in the 25th minute for a peculiar 27th minute change for Full-Back Jose Enrique. Joe Cole has scored twice against West Ham in his previous days at Chelsea.
The substitution saw a revival for West Ham’s attack with crosses flying into the box and heavy pressure being applied to Liverpool’s defence with a box flooded full of claret and blue shirts.
A bit of respite was given to Liverpool when they managed to pressure West Ham in their own attacking area, but clever play led to a sharp counter attack that was thwarted by captain Steven Gerrard with a rash challenge from behind that earned him the first yellow card of the match in the 33rd minute.
The woes only got worse for Liverpool when a 37th minute penalty was given to West Ham after Joe Allen raised his right arm to deflect Mohamed Diamé. Mark Noble slotted the equalizing penalty into the lower left corner quick enough to outpace the correctly guessed dive of Pepe Reina.
It only got worse before the stroke of halftime. Matt Jarvis’ cross came screaming into the area and bounced the wrong way off the head of Steven Gerrard and behind the hands of Pepe Reina. Not much one can do about that. 2-1 to West Ham 43 minutes in. It was five minutes later that the whistle sounded for halftime.
West Ham made a change before play resumed when Guy Demel came off for George McCartney. But all eyes were on the visiting side to see how they would approach the second 45 minutes after their first half collapse.
Nothing changed in 35 minutes. The West Ham fans loud as ever, spurring their team on as the home side led 2-1. Liverpool showed a small bit of fight in the 70th minute before their second substitution was made when Jordan Henderson was sent out to replace the recently injured Lucas Leiva. Just moments after the substitution it was injury for Mohamed Diame that became shock as the Senegalese international collapsed on the right wing and clutched his hamstring right in front of corner flag. Diame was carried off the pitch in a stretcher and made way for 23 year old Olympian, James Tomkins.
So far this season, Liverpool have not scored in the last 15 minutes of a match, and that stat was snapped by the most unlikely of places. Joe Cole continued his scoring record against West Ham in the 76th minute when a beautiful through ball from Raheem Sterling gave Joe Cole space in front of the left goal post and Cole coolly slotted the ball in for the equalizer.
That wasn’t the end of the story when another former West Ham player, Jonjo Shelvey, had his say two minutes later. Shelvey had received a low cross from winger Jordan Henderson that Shelvey chipped up over keeper Jääskeläinen and watched it fall into the opposite side netting for the go ahead goal to make it 3-2 in the span of five minutes.
Modibo Maiga was the fifth switch of the match replacing Matt Taylor in the 85th minute. Simultaneously, Joe Allen was replaced by Uruguayan international Sebastian Coates.
Liverpool would play very defensively and very nervously up until the end of the match with Raheem Sterling nearly making it curtains with a dangerous solo counter attack in the 88th minute.
Much to the surprise and confusion of Brendan Rodgers, five minutes was the time added to the end of the 90 as “Justice for the 96” was chanted around Upton Park.
Massive controversy as Jonjo Shelvey was tripped in the area by defender Winston Reid who was in trouble a minute later for committing the same offense on the same man just outside the box.
After 96 minutes and 17 seconds the final whistle blew to send Liverpool Football Club into the top half of the table for the first time since May. What was certainly a roller coaster of emotions for both sides turned out to be an entertaining affair and certainly one to mark a highlight of the season.
With no European football to worry about until February, the focus is now on domestic competition as the next five matches will all be league matches starting with Aston Villa on Saturday, the 15th, and then a trip to Craven Cottage to face Fulham the Saturday after that.