Hammers Striker Sofiane Feghouli covered himself for glory as West Ham fought out a rollercoasting 2-2 draw against Liverpool at Anfield.
For Liverpool Manager, Jurgen Klopp it must have been the stuff of nightmares; the Reds, playing in front of 51,400 fans went into half-time down by a goal. In the second half the home team came storming back to take the lead in a whirlwind of attack… only to have all the precious Premier League points snatched away from them in the shadows of full time.
Such is the life of a Premier League Manager: the highs and lows were played out for all to see – and at times it was traumatic to watch.
The match started evenly with both teams cautious, and it wasn’t until the 25th minute that the first scoring chance fell at the feet of Liverpool after a beautiful ball wide to the right. Coutinho ran towards the box and cut inside his marker. His through-ball to the feet of Firmino was perfect but the shot on goal was poor and easily saved.
Then, in the 30th minute, West Ham stole the lead when Feghouli received a midfield pass under tight man-marking. The striker slipped his defender and dribbled Messi-like to the box in a stunning display of dazzling skills. After beating off two desperate challenges, the West Ham target man blasted his shot past the keeper to give the Hammers an unlikely half-time lead.
Top: The West Ham striker receives the ball from midfield and slips his marker despite tight coverage
Bottom: All the way – Feghouli weaves a jinking run into the box and smashes home the first goal of the match.
At the break, West Ham’s Manager, Slaven Bilic, made a double substitution, taking off strikers and bolstering the Hammers defense in the hope that the visitors could hold off Liverpool for another 45 minutes to record an away victory. In the home change room, Klopp was hatching his own counter-tactics.
The second half started sedately with West Ham keen to retain possession, and Liverpool hard on the press. In the 66th minute the home team’s aggression was rewarded after an insightful break down the left wing. With the defense playing wide in support, Liverpool broke down the flank and Coutinho found himself in space. He drove to the byline and cut the ball back across the face of goal. Firmino made no mistake from just 6 yards out, leveling the scores at 1-1.
Top: Coutinho rampaging down the left flank in space.
Bottom: The cut-back ball from the byline, across the face of goal.
Nine minutes later the Reds snatched the lead. Again West Ham’s right side defense was found wanting and Liverpool were ruthless in their exploitation. Again the catalyst was Coutinho, playing wide and in space. This time he centered the ball and Firmino beat a lazy West Ham defensive tackle that should have snuffed out the building attack. Instead, the Liverpool striker was able to turn in possession and snap a shot before the cover defense could close him down. In an instant the match had turned; Liverpool were leading 2-1.
Poor defending: Firmino beats a lazy challenge before taking the ball into the box and scoring for Liverpool.
It seemed that the Reds had done enough but what nobody expected was the stunning miracle goal from Sofiane Feghouli in the 81st minute.
There was nothing on for West Ham. They had the ball in midfield but only one man forward. The pass reached Feghouli under tight marking. He turned on the corner of the penalty box, found just an inch of space, and hit a curling miracle shot from the edge of the box to beat the desperate dive of the keeper. It was a spectacular goal – and a vital equalizer.
From out of thin air! Sofiane Feghouli receives a pass from midfield. He turns, finds an inch of space, and fires a curling miracle shot at goal to score the 2-2 equalizer for West Ham.
The final nine minutes of the match produced no more chances for either team. West Ham secured an important draw, knowing it could have been much more… and Liverpool salvaged a point from the jaws of defeat, knowing also that all the points were a prize within their reach.
Ultimately, a draw was a fitting result for a match that offered the spectators fine thrills and drama