West Ham 0-4 Liverpool: Reds hammer West Ham as they close in on Champions League
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
With former Manchester United defender and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville telling Jurgen Klopp to strengthen his back four, Liverpool's attack strengthened their bid for the top four in a four-goal win over West Ham.
The Reds were on top throughout the game, hitting 26 shots and winning 67 per cent of the possession. With a stellar performance from Coutinho, contributing two to the scoreboard, Liverpool strengthened their Champions League bid. Victory against Middlebrough on the final day will guarantee them a spot in the top-tier European competition, according to the BBC.
Daniel Sturridge made his return to the squad, after scoring his first goal (on his first start) since January. The 27-year-old, who has made just 19 Premier League appearances in an injury-stricken season, fired Liverpool in front in the 35th minute.
With Coutinho hitting a sweet pass down to Sturridge in the middle, cutting open the West Ham defence, he rounded Adrian with a clever step-over and coolly slotted it home.
Andre Ayew missed an easy chance for West Ham to equalise. The Independent asks if it was "the worst in Premier League history", after the Ghanaian hit the post twice from two yards before half time.
Coutinho was causing more trouble as the Brazilian scored Liverpool's second just before the hour mark. Following Georginio Wijnaldum powerful strike hitting the crossbar, Coutinho claimed the ball, weaving past the defence and driving it into the bottom corner.
He added another to his tally five minutes later, capitalising on a Liverpool counter attack. The Hammers were left unhappy after a penalty shout was ignored after Wijnaldum appeared to strike Winston Reid with his elbow. Play continued and Coutinho hit a hard finish past a helpless Adrian.
The goalkeeper was at fault for Liverpool's fourth goal after he flapped to save Lallana's shot. With the ball falling to Wijnaldum's feet, he managed a mis-shot that was poked into the net by Divock Origi.
Until their final home game of the season, Adrian did not concede a single goal in the last three matches since he was recalled by Hammers boss, Slaven Bilić. The Spanish goalkeeper slipped down the pecking order behind Darren Randolph after four years as the first choice man between the sticks at the London Stadium. However, his case for the first team was undermined as he picked the ball out of the net four times.
Liverpool can secure their Champions League qualification when they play relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield on Sunday, May 21 (K.O. 3pm).