Date published: Saturday 31st October 2020 7:25
Diogo Jota scored Liverpool’s winner for a second Premier League game in a row as the Reds beat West Ham 2-1 at Anfield.
One week on from his decisive goal against Sheffield United, the Portuguese forward came on from the bench to score at a 85th minute winner at the Kop end.
His goal also completed another turnaround for the champions, who had to come from behind to win at home for the third consecutive league game after a defensive error saw them fall behind after 10 minutes.
With Fabinho ruled out with a hamstring injury and Joel Matip still not fit to return, Jurgen Klopp opted to play Nat Phillips alongside Joe Gomez at the heart of Liverpool’s defence.
While it was Phillips making his Premier League debut, it was a Gomez error that led to the games opening goal after just ten minutes.
The England international failed to properly deal with a cross and his misplaced header fell straight to Pablo Fornals, who controlled well with his chest before tucking his side-footed attempt into the bottom left corner.
That was the 15th league goal Liverpool have conceded in 2020/21, the worst defensive record in the division.
The champions struggled to muster much of a response to the early setback, taking until the 24th minute to register a shot despite dominating the possession.
Jordan Henderson sent a 25-yard effort just wide on that occasion, while Andy Robertson also had a chance in the 37th minute but put his volley over the bar.
In fact it was the away side who looked the more dangerous, often looking threatening on the counter, but could not turn those into chances.
But the Hammers gave their opponents a helping hand in getting back on level terms just before the break when Arthur Masuaku clumsily fouled Mohamed Salah in the box to concede a penalty.
The Egyptian picked himself back up to take the spot kick himself, and he tucked it away emphatically by smashing the ball down the middle to beat Lukasz Fabianski.
The equaliser seemed to buoy the Reds, who came out for the second half looking much more lively.
Curtis Jones, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino were all heavily involved as the hosts searched for an opening in and around the West Ham box, but the defence stood firm.
Unable to take the lead, their vulnerability at the back then almost proved costly again in the 65th minute when Gomez was beaten to a header and Fornals was able to break in to the box, but Robertson got back to put in a crucial block.
Moments later the Scotsman got in-behind the Hammers’ defence to collect a fine long-range pass from Henderson, but his cross was blocked by Fabianski to deny Salah what was likely to be a simple tap in.
Salah was teed up for a shot by Sadio Mane in the 73rd minute, but he drove his shot wide of the post.
But Liverpool thought they had finally brought an end to their frustrations in with just under 15 minutes remaining when Jota reacted first to Mane’s saved shot to score, only the referee to rule the latter had fouled Fabianski as he looked to stab home the rebound.
Their pressure did eventually pay off though when Jota was played through by a brilliant pass from fellow substitute Xherdan Shaqiri, and he coolly stroked into the back of the net.
With Everton not in action until tomorrow, the victory puts Liverpool top of the table until Sunday afternoon at least.