After The Match 


West Ham-Liverpool 1-0 (0-0)       30.1.08                           PL
Goals: Noble (93 pen)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Aurelio, Benayoun, Gerrard, Alonso, Kewell, Torres, Kuyt
Subs: Lucas (Kewell 61), Babel (Benayoun 73)
Not used: Itandje, Skrtel, Crouch
Yellow: Aurelio (38), Torres (71), Alonso (88)
Red: None
Referee: Alan Wiley
Attendance: 34,977
Shots on target: 1-1
Shots off target: 6-7
Blocked shots: 3-7
Fouls conceded: 13-22
Corners: 4-6
Offsides: 2-2
Possession: 47.8-52.2
Yellow: 0-3
HEADLINES "Everything went wrong
at the end."

Rafael Benitez

3101: Carra: Reds playing for fourth
3101: Sami: Team unity will break slump
3001: Rafa rage over late lapse
3001: Late Hammer blow for Liverpool   

Carra: Reds playing for fourth

ITV Football

Jamie Carragher says Liverpool's title bid is over and believes the club are fighting for a Champions League place.

Defeat at West Ham last night left them 17 points off the pace in seventh, still without a win in the league since Boxing Day.

Boss Rafael Benitez is confident they can earn a top-four place but Carragher is ready for a fight to get back into Europe's elite for the next campaign.

"I think the league has gone and we've got to realise that we're fighting with Everton, Aston Villa and Man City for that top-four place," said Carragher on the club's official website.

Carragher conceded the injury-time penalty at Upton Park, although it was problems elsewhere that led to Liverpool failing to earn their first league win of 2008.

Hammers goalkeeper Robert Green had a quiet evening and the only save he was required to make, from Fernando Torres, may have been going wide.

"I don't think it's down to luck or anything like that - I've always said you get what you deserve in football and if results aren't going well like they're not at the moment that's something we've got to turn around quickly," Carragher said.

"The teams at the top are a long way away and we've got to just focus on the Sunderland game on Saturday and try and get three points from that.

"It's been a few games now since we got all three points and we need to get more points on the board.

"West Ham is a tough place to go and obviously we're not playing great and confidence is a bit low but if we'd got a point there it would have been a step in the right direction."

The dip in form in the league means the Champions League or the FA Cup is a more likely route for success.

"It's not all doom and gloom," Carragher added. "We're still in two very big cup competitions and, as I say, we want to do well in them, but the league form isn't good enough and the sooner we sort that out the better.

"At the moment things aren't going for us, but I don't think it's about luck."

Sami: Team unity will break slump

By Jimmy Rice - LFC Official Website

Sami Hyypia has spoken of the need for team unity in order to pull Liverpool out of their league slump.

The big Finn knows from experience how hard it is to turn around a negative string of results just ask him about the winter of 2002-03. Back then Gerard Houllier's Liverpool went 11 league games without a win.

The present run of four points from five games is not quite at that level just yet and Hyypia has his own ideas on how to make sure it never does.

"It's a group thing," he told following defeat at West Ham. "We need to re-group and as a team find a way out. We need to work even harder than we have been doing and then it will come. We have enough quality in the squad to win games and score goals, so it's a matter of time before our form comes back.

"We had a very good period in November and December and we need to look at that and remember how we were playing."

While Hyypia is not the type to pump his fists in the dressing room, he does concede that his experience can be useful when things aren't going to plan on the pitch.

He said: "Of course we have the coaching staff to talk to the team but if someone asks my advice I will be there to give my opinion. Even when things aren't going well I will not hide. I'm there if somebody needs me."

Much has been made of Liverpool's inability to kill teams off since Christmas, but the club's veteran defender admits there have also been problems at the other end.

Both Benitez and his predecessor built their success on solid foundations, with clean sheet records broken on an almost annual basis.

With just two shut-outs in 12 games, however, Hyypia concedes that all is not well at the back.

"We've conceded goals in games recently where the defending hasn't been as solid as in the previous seasons Rafa Benitez has been here," said the 34-year-old. "From that point of view we have things to do better.

"But it's a team thing. Like when I talk about not taking chances, it's not just about the strikers. As a group we have to get together and put things right.

"It's not only the back four that defends."

For Hyypia, two of the main reasons why Liverpool's defending hasn't reached its usual standards of late are inextricably linked: Daniel Agger's injury and the subsequent need for him, as the only senior centre-back waiting in the wings, to play almost every game.

The Finn explained: "The rotation has been talked about since the boss has been here but for me personally it's been quite good. Last season I played quite regularly but not every week. That suited me perfectly because I had time to recover from games and I could perform better as I was fresh.

"Maybe this year it's been a bit more difficult for me because I've played as many games at this point of the year than I did in all of last season.

"I think Daniel's injury is one thing that has affected the defending too because he is a quality player who really helps the team."

Rafa rage over late lapse

By Joe Drabble - Sky Sports

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez was left cursing an injury-time lapse in concentration as West Ham condemned the Reds to a 1-0 defeat at Upton Park.

Benitez was left questioning his players' decision to gamble forward to attack a last-minute corner which ultimately saw the Hammers break down the other end and earn a late penalty.

Despite the result Benitez still believes his side did enough on the night to earn the three points.

"Yes to lose is always a bad thing for us but especially in these types of games where you have chances and you are attacking, but you don't take your chances," Benitez told Sky Sports.

"Especially after a corner in the last minute - they can go forward and play on the counter-attack when we only had three players outside [the West Ham box] and they won a penalty.

"Everything went wrong at the end."

Liverpool had strong penalty appeals turned down themselves when Sami Hyypia's header appeared to strike Lucas Neill's arm in the box - however Benitez refused to criticise referee Alan Wiley.

"There could have been a penalty but you cannot change the decisions of the referee now so that's it," said Benitez.

"I think that we started really well and also the second half we were attacking and creating clear chances so the question sometimes is that we must be calmer in front of goal and that is the difference."

Liverpool have now only picked up four points from their last five Premier League games, and Benitez admits his side must work through this poor patch of the season.

"It's a bad situation now because I think today again we deserved to win, but you cannot change the result," he said.

"We are doing well in the cup but we need to improve in the league."

Late Hammer blow for Liverpool


Mark Noble grabbed a stoppage-time winner from the penalty spot as West Ham beat visitors Liverpool 1-0 in the Premier League on Wednesday.

With better finishing from Luis Boa Morte at Upton Park, the Hammers would have had their first win over the Reds since 1999 sealed before Noble struck from the spot.

But Boa Morte wasted two sitters either side of half-time before home fans cruelly cheered him off when he was substituted.

Even a draw would have left Rafael Benitez's men still well off the pace for the title and they remain without a win in the league since Boxing Day.

It was billed as a match between two teams with contrasting styles of ownership - Alan Curbishley is left to get on with his job by his Icelandic bosses, while the Americans at Anfield have created a stir since taking over.

On the pitch, only Noble's penalty was to choose between them.

West Ham knew victory or defeat would not have moved them from 10th, yet their display would have suggested they were trying to prove they could rub shoulders with those chasing Europe.

Their fans had a point to prove as well, jeering Yossi Benayoun following his departure in the summer.

"We were hoping he would sign a long-term contract with us, but that didn't happen," wrote Hammers boss Curbishley in his programme notes.

Benayoun, Steve Finnan and Sami Hyypia were the only survivors from the nervous victory over Havant and Waterlooville at the weekend - and it was Benayoun who had the first chance when he almost took advantage of a mishap from Robert Green.

The goalkeeper's slice was worked to Dirk Kuyt and then Benayoun, but his chip drifted over the crossbar.

From a relatively promising start, with Kuyt seeing the ball playing just off Fernando Torres, it was the hosts who then gathered momentum as the first half unravelled.

Curbishley used Carlton Cole as the focal point of his attack, and the striker almost embarrassed Jose Reina early on when the goalkeeper dwelt on the ball.

Cole helped create West Ham's first genuine opening, midway through the opening half.

The striker flicked on George McCartney's long throw, Liverpool were seized by panic as Lee Bowyer tussled but Boa Morte rushed his shot and blazed over when the ball fell to him.

The hosts got even closer in the 26th minute when a free-kick was awarded on the left flank for Jamie Carragher's foul on Cole. Noble took the set-piece, which was glanced by Finnan and cannoned off the crossbar.

Noble and Steven Gerrard battled in the middle of the park - England central midfielder against his under-21 counterpart - and the senior man was fortunate to escape a booking for one of his challenges. Fabio Aurelio, though, picked up a caution for his foul on Freddie Ljungberg.

Cole had a sight of goal in stoppage-time in the opening period but Benayoun slid in to block and Liverpool went into the break level.

They were marginally brighter in the second half.

Kuyt created the first chance, three minutes in, when he found room on the right flank and drove a cross into the danger area, but Harry Kewell could not wrap his foot around the ball to finish.

Matthew Upson then flashed a backpass right across Green's goal, which the goalkeeper had to watch drift wide.

Torres also ran at pace into the penalty box but was outnumbered when he looked to find a team-mate.

At the other end, Boa Morte fluffed his finish when Noble's free-kick was headed into his path. Then came the ironic cheers for Boa Morte's departure, with Bowyer also coming off for Matthew Etherington and Dean Ashton, both back from injury.

Liverpool midfielder Lucas came on for Kewell and he was just wide with his finish after releasing Torres down the right and getting on the end of the cross.

Lucas also went wide when he got on the end of a driving run from Gerrard.

Torres, who was booked for dissent, was denied by Green at the near post from Ryan Babel's cross, while Lucas Neill flashed wide for West Ham before the end.

With injury-time just about over, Carragher brought down Ljungberg in the penalty area. Noble converted the spot-kick.

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Thor Zakariassen