Premier League - Liverpool beat poor West Ham

Sat, 20 Nov 19:24:00 2010

Liverpool cruised to a straightforward 3-0 Premier League win against a dismal West Ham United side at Anfield.

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First half goals from Glen Johnson, Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez settled a match that saw Roy Hodgson's side rise to eighth, while West Ham stay rooted to the foot of the table after a shockingly passive display.

Liverpool were without captain Steven Gerrard, controversially injured on England duty, but they could hardly have picked a kinder fixture to be without their midfielder.

West Ham were abysmal, and made worse for the absence of their own skipper, Scott Parker, with a chest infection.

There has been a temptation to describe the Hammers as a one-man team this season, and their utter capitulation will do nothing to dispel suspicions they are just Parker plus 10.

Liverpool immediately went on to the front foot, encouraged by the total absence of pressure in midfield.

Fernando Torres sent one shot wide and had another blocked before Johnson opened the scoring on 18 minutes.

A corner was headed down inside the box, Johnson reacted quickest and drilled a smart finish past Robert Green.

The full-back, making his return from injury, has been involved in a public war of words with Hodgson, but his all-round excellent will have worked wonders getting him back in the manager's good books.

It was two on 27 minutes after a handball by Danny Gabbidon was spotted by the linesman who flagged, and referee Lee Probert pointed to the spot. Kuyt rolled his penalty low down the middle as Green dived out of the way.

West Ham hardly mounted an attack worthy of the name, and on one of the few occasions they did enter enemy territory Frederic Piquionne virtually caught the ball in the Liverpool box before letting it drop.

Carlton Cole finally tested Pepe Reina with a header from a Luis Boa Morte cross, but it was straight at the goalkeeper.

The third goal came on 38 minutes after a Green had saved a Torres shot with his legs. Liverpool retrieved the rebound, worked it back into the box and Maxi converted a free header from eight yards.

It was a piece of defending so execrable that some visiting fans headed for the exits.

Those that left early did not miss much.

The second half was as uneventful as Premier League football gets, as Liverpool made little effort to extend their lead and West Ham made absolutely none to get back into the game.

The boredom was momentarily lifted by two magnificent saves in less than a minute by Green.

First he sprang to his right to touch a Torres shot onto the woodwork, then he leapt to the left to tip a Christian Poulsen behind.

Those West Ham supporters that remained spent most of the second half chanting for Avram Grant to be replaced by Paolo Di Canio, while the closest the visitors came to scoring was in second-half stoppage time when Piquionne sent a glancing header well wide.

Alex Chick / Eurosport

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