West Ham, Liverpool require FA Cup replay after putrid draw
Liverpool and West Ham will head to a replay at Upton Park after a colorless 0-0 draw in their FA Cup tie Saturday evening.
Liverpool fielded a very young team on the night, giving runs out to Cameron Brannagan, Kevin Stewart and Joao Teixeira, perhaps in an attempt by Jurgen Klopp to find some badly-needed depth. The kids were all right -- but in a mostly frantic and forgettable first half it must be noted only one shot actually went on frame.
The terrible half was only made memorable by a gruesome injury: James Tomkins clashed heads with Joe Allen and immediately had to come off. Bleeding profusely, Tomkins had a suspected concussion and took 12 stitches for his 35 minutes of trouble. Cheikhou Kouyate was also yanked in the first half by Slaven Bilic, with another injury suspected.
Only Brannagan made an impact, if one could call it that, forcing a decent save from backup keeper Darren Randolph with a long-range effort that was turned round the post. The less said about West Ham's "attack" the better.
The second half was better, but you rarely got the sense that either team could find a breakthrough. In fact, the best chance for the Hammers probably came early in the half, when Steven Caulker was seen to handle the ball not once but twice in the box off a Dmitri Payet freekick. Missed by both the linesman and the ref, it was a let off for Liverpool.
Chances continued to be sparse, with Joao Teixeira having one of the better looks in the 63rd minute from range that was easily pushed over by Randolph. Liverpool did break into the Hammers' box, but displayed little nous in the final third. Christian Benteke was the worst offender, hitting shots tamely to Randolph and looking flat-footed several times when the ball fell into his path. But Joe Allen also had decent looks that he instead ballooned over the bar.
At least Liverpool went forward. The Hammers sat back for so much of the match that one started to wonder if the opposition's penalty box was radioactive. It wasn't until Michail Antonio came on late that West Ham began to make a fist of it -- and he nearly won it in stoppage. He towered above his man to win a header that had Simon Mignolet well-beat -- but it caromed off the post and back out.