Gerrard celebrates with the two goalscorers - Kuyt and
Crouch. (Photo: EPA)
quality street Reds
By James Pearce - Liverpool Echo
Rafa Benitez hailed the quality of the strikes from
matchwinners Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch after Liverpool
closed the gap on Chelsea to two points at Upton Park last
Kuyt fired the Reds in front with a spectacular 25 yard shot
just 10 seconds into the second half. And seven minutes
later Crouch celebrated his 26th birthday in style by
finishing off a stunning team move with a clinical drive
from the edge of the box.
West Ham debutant, Spanish striker Kepa Blanco, pulled one
back with 14 minutes to go but the Reds deservedly held on
to notch a fifth straight Premiership victory.
Boss Benitez said: “I think they were two great goals. The
finish of Kuyt was good and I think the second goal was
really good play.
“We regained the ball deeply, we got forward, passed between
the lines and the finish of Crouch was really good.
“I think that was the difference. It was important we scored
before them and then we started to have more confidence.
“After that they needed to score and were under pressure.
Only when we conceded the goal were we a little nervous.
“I didn’t know it was Crouch’s birthday - one day before the
transfer window shuts I’ve been focusing on other things.
“But I will go and say happy birthday to him. I’m sure he’s
happy with the man of the match award and maybe he’s
drinking his champagne.”
Victory cranked up the pressure on second-placed Chelsea
ahead of their home clash with Blackburn Rovers tonight and
Benitez has challenged his players to maintain their high
standards over the coming months.
“We’re on a good run, we have confidence and a winning
momentum, but we need to keep it going because it’s a long
race,” he said.
“I prefer to be under this pressure. Now we must think about
the next game and the next three points.
“Then we will see where we are in two or three weeks.
“Maybe we will be closer and then we can start talking about
“Chelsea have experience and quality. If they lose some
points then perfect, but if not we know we must keep going.
“We’re in a positive position and it helps with motivating
“People talked about how we couldn’t beat the top sides, but
we beat Chelsea, we were better than them and now we’ve
“We’ve shown we have the quality to at least get closer to
The result completed a league double for the Reds to deepen
the lowly Hammers’ relegation fears.
Manager Alan Curbishley said: "It was a real blow to lose a
goal right after half-time. But our season was never going
to be decided by this game.
"The real disappointment is that we have been in winning
positions against Fulham and Newcastle in recent weeks and
didn't hold on. Four points from those and we would be out
“We just can't keep a settled side. We had to throw the back
four together over the last couple of days.
“They were competing and battling away, but that first goal
gave Liverpool a real lift and obviously set us right back."
Benitez beaming after Reds win
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Rafa Benitez says his Liverpool side are full of
confidence after they continued their fine Premiership form
at West Ham.
Two superb goals from Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch saw
Liverpool win 2-1 at Upton Park and see The Reds record a
ninth Premiership victory in their last ten games.
That run has seen them close to within two points of
second-placed Chelsea and eight points behind Premiership
leaders Manchester United.
"In the first half, we were trying to keep the ball," said
"The game was balanced.
"In the second half, we got the ball and started controlling
the game. It was only at the end where we were a bit
Both of Liverpool's brilliant goals came early in the second
in the second half, with Crouch's sublime finish an
appropriate end to a fine passing move from the visitors.
"It [Crouch's goal] was a fantastic play from all the team,"
"We practice things like that in every training session and
tonight it was a perfect finish.
"We have confidence at the moment."
Crouch's superb goal also gave him the perfect present for
his 26th birthday.
"It was obviously always going to be tough against West Ham
who are fighting for their lives," said Crouch.
"But it was important we got the result and scoring capped
it off for me.
"Things weren't going for us in the first half. In the
second half it clicked with Dirk scoring so early and it
settled us down."
With Liverpool two points behind Chelsea and eight off
leaders Manchester United, Crouch said they would just
concentrate on keeping their own run going.
"It's going to be difficult," added Crouch.
"But we've said before we've got to keep this run going and
hope the top two slip up."
closer to Chelsea
By Phil McNulty - BBC Sport Online
Liverpool closed to within two points of Chelsea in
second place and plunged West Ham deeper into trouble.
Dirk Kuyt fired Liverpool ahead with a spectacular 25-yard
finish only 10 seconds after half-time.
And Peter Crouch's measured drive from the edge of the
penalty area doubled Liverpool's lead seven minutes later.
West Ham debut boy Kepa Blanco, on as a substitute, scored
with his first touch after 76 minutes, but Liverpool
survived for a deserved victory.
Liverpool were in no mood to show troubled West Ham any
mercy, with Kuyt, Crouch and Craig Bellamy forming a
positive attacking formation.
And they exerted almost total domination of possession
against a nervous Hammers' side in the early exchanges, with
keeper Roy Carroll's jittery display hardly designed to
spread confidence through the home side's ranks.
But it was Carroll's opposite number Pepe Reina who was in
the more meaningful action, despite Liverpool showing the
He dived well to his left to keep out Marlon Harewood's low
25-yard drive, then saved again from Yossi Benayoun after a
neat exchange with Carlton Cole.
Hammers' boss Alan Curbishley will have drawn encouragement
from the latter stages of the first half - but all the good
work was wrecked within 10 seconds of the re-start.
Liverpool kicked off, and when Crouch laid the ball into
Kuyt's path, he arrowed a 25-yard finish past Carroll into
the top corner.
And Liverpool doubled the lead seven minutes later when a
wonderful passage of play ended with John-Arne Riise setting
up Crouch for a powerful side-foot shot that left Carroll
Liverpool were rampant and West Ham shattered - Bellamy
almost adding the third with a shot that was inches off
target on the turn from 12 yards.
Carroll saved West Ham from falling further behind after 63
minutes, saving a point-blank effort from Kuyt after he was
played in by Bellamy.
West Ham had penalty appeals turned down with 20 minutes
remaining, but Liverpool defender Riise clearly got a touch
on the ball ahead of Harewood.
Curbishley made a double change, sending on Zamora and
Blanco for Cole and and Harewood as time ran out.
And Spanish striker Blanco, on loan from Sevilla, scored
with his first touch after 76 minutes, sliding in Zamora's