Liverpool beats last-place West Ham 3-0
Liverpool showed it can cope just fine without injured captain Steven Gerrard, easily beating last-place West Ham 3-0 Saturday after scoring all three goals in the first half.
Glen Johnson and Maxi Rodriguez scored either side of a Dirk Kuyt penalty against a lackluster West Ham team, whose performance only increased the pressure on manager Avram Grant.
Liverpool had several chances to increase the lead but goalkeeper Robert Green pulled off two stellar saves within seconds of each other to deny long-range shots from Fernando Torres and Christian Poulsen.
With Gerrard out for a month with a hamstring tear sustained on England duty, manager Roy Hodgson called for his players to step up to fill the void.
The visiting fans were less than impressed, and many left before halftime. Those who stayed directed their anger at manager Avram Grant with chants of ''You're getting sacked in the morning.''
The easy win came at a good time for Liverpool after two poor performances in a 1-1 draw at Wigan and last Saturday's defeat at Stoke which ended a six-game unbeaten run.
Raul Meireles looked better in a more accustomed central position, filling Gerrard's place, while Johnson and Rodriguez also did well and even the much-criticized Christian Poulsen had his best game since joining in the summer.
However, Hodgson's side eased up after the break and lost the momentum and rhythm they built up in the first half. But they never looked in danger of conceding and the clean sheet was Jose Reina's 134th in all competitions, taking him past Tommy Lawrence into fourth on the club's all-time list.
West Ham has not won at Anfield in the league in 47 years.
Green was kept busy from the start and had to tip over Meireles' long-range effort in the 18th minute. Meireles swung over the corner and Johnson chested it down before drilling a low shot straight down the middle of the goal with the goalkeeper unsighted by Danny Gabbidon.
It was the first time since the opening weekend of the season a Liverpool goal had not been scored or created by Torres or Gerrard.
But Torres contributed to the second goal as it was his flick into the penalty area which bounced off Matthew Upson onto the arm of Gabbidon, allowing Kuyt to roll home a 27th-minute penalty.
Green then blocked Torres' shot with his legs but was powerless to stop Paul Konchesky whipping in the rebound to the unmarked Rodriguez, the smallest man in the penalty area, who guided the ball inside the far post with his head.
In the second half, Liverpool was content to coast to the victory, although Green still had to make sure the lead didn't increase. He tipped Torres' fierce shot onto the crossbar at full stretch and, in the same move, then turned Poulsen's long-range effort around his left-hand post.