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Premiership
Tuesday, 30th January 2007

West Ham United 1
Liverpool 2

by Graeme Howlett


A debut goal from striker Kepa Blanco wasn't enough to prevent United from slipping to another demoralising home defeat at the Boleyn tonight.

Blanco struck his first goal for the club less than a minute after entering the fray as a late second half substitute - although earlier strikes from Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch ensured the Hammers suffered a sixth home league defeat of the campaign.

Alan Curbishley - who has now seen his team win just two of his ten matches in charge - was forced to shuffle the pack once again due to the weekend injury sustained by new signing Lucas Neill, which meant Christian Dailly lined up alongside Calum Davenport in the centre of defence with George McCartney and Jonathan Spector filling the full-back berths.

More surprising perhaps was the inclusion of Roy Carroll, with crowd favourite Rob Green once again overlooked despite the former's blunder against Watford on Saturday. The Irish keeper certainly didn't help his cause with a couple of mistakes in the first half, which - a little harshly perhaps - resulted in chants of 'there's only one Robert Green' from an increasingly dissatisfied Boleyn crowd, baffled by Green's omission.

Despite those defensive problems the Hammers kept Liverpool at bay in a busy first half, despite being under heavy pressure. However a classic case of a lack of concentration cost United dearly just TEN seconds into the second period, when Dirk Kuyt capitalised on a defensive error by recent signing Calum Davenport to put the visitors ahead with a well placed strike.

With United on the backfoot and with their fragile confidence seemingly shattered the night's killer blow was delivered just seven minutes later when Peter Crouch exhibited some unusually decent footwork to work a chance before firing wide of Roy Carroll to double the lead.

It was another 20 minutes before Alan Curbishley decided to alter things when he introduced Bobby Zamora and Kepa Blanco for Marlon Harewood and the industrious Carlton Cole. And when Zamora set up Blanco for his debut goal with practically his first touch of the game on 74 minutes supporters would be forgiven for wondering why the former Charlton man had waited for so long before altering his side.

As up until those substitutions Curbishley had appeared to have achieved the impossible by sending out a Hammers side worse than anything Alan Pardew had produced prior to his sacking at the tail end of last year. Although the ever-expanding injury list is clearly a primary reason for United's dismal form in recent weeks there was still a complete lack of cohesion and inventiveness amongst the eleven on show tonight - which if nothing else, must be a serious concern for a manager who seems unable to lift the side from their current malaise.



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Player Ratings

Roy Carroll
Dropped the ball, sliced his kicks - the pressure on him is telling.


Jonathan Spector
Caught out of position way too often.


George McCartney
The pick of the defenders, and he also managed to deliver a couple of decent crosses at the other end.


Christian Dailly
Huffed and puffed but looked gloriously out of his depth.


Calum Davenport
Horrible error which led to Liverpool's first. Not his best night.


Nigel Quashie
Industrious, reasonably effective but spent too much time looking for the killer pass.


Nigel Reo-Coker
Worked tirelessly and made several good runs - whilst it was nice to see him have a pop from distance on a couple of occasions.


Yossi Benayoun
Surprisingly poor, as he often performs well against the glamour clubs. His passing was hopeless.


Luis Boa Morte
Offered virtually nothing and spent much of the game involved in personal tussles. Looking far from a 5m player - and his dive in the box was embarrassing.


Carlton Cole
Worked hard at both ends of the pitch and won a lot of headers - but pretty ineffective in front of goal.


Marlon Harewood
Forced Reina into one excellent save but once again offered little.


Substitutes


Bobby Zamora
(Replaced Cole, 72) Great vision and delivery for the goal.


Kepa Blanco
(Replaced Harewood, 74) Not a bad finish for someone who only scored with his head. Loses a mark for wearing gloves ...


Robert Green
Did not play.


John Paintsil
Did not play.


Hayden Mullins
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: C.Foy.

Attendance: 34,966.

Man of the Match: Nigel Reo-Coker.

West Ham United

Roy Carroll, Jonathan Spector, George McCartney, Christian Dailly, Calum Davenport, Nigel Quashie, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Luis Boa Morte, Carlton Cole, Marlon Harewood.

Goals: Kepa Blanco 74                  .

Booked: Nigel Reo-Coker 60          .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Liverpool

Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Agger, Alonso, Gerrard, Riise, Kuyt, Bellamy, Crouch.

Substitutes: Pennant (Crouch 70), Gonzalez (Bellamy 84), Fowler (Kuyt 90).

Subs not used: Dudek, Zenden.

Goals: Juyt (46), Crouch (52).

Booked: Alonso.

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
Graeme Howlett's Man of the Match: Nigel Reo-Coker