West Ham rise to fifth in the Premier League after securing a deserved 2-0 victory over an out-of-sorts Liverpool side at Upton Park.
Michail Antonio gave the hosts an ideal start, heading home an Enner Valencia cross after 10 minutes to emulate Ryan Shawcross, Victor Anichebe and Tuncay Sanli in scoring the first Premier League goal of the calendar year.
Liverpool boasted the most of the possession at Upton Park, but struggled to find a breakthrough against a resolute Hammers side. Roberto Firmino had perhaps their best opportunity in the first half, but could not beat Adrian after Christian Benteke’s knockdown.
The Reds ended the half the better side, with Emre Can hitting the bar with a curling effort, but another quick start in the second half from West Ham dampened hopes of a comeback.
Mark Noble’s cross from the right on 55 minutes was met by former Liverpool striker Andy Carroll, whose excellent header beat Simon Mignolet, and lifted the Hammers into fifth, just three points behind Spurs.
Liverpool were hugely disappointing and, with just one shot on target all game, rarely looked capable of getting back into the match after Antonio fired the hosts ahead.
Antonio’s first goal for the club, against Southampton last Monday, had more than a touch of fortune about it after a clearance hit him on the head and flew into the net.
But there was no doubt about his second of the season as the winger thumped in a close-range header from Valencia’s cross after 10 minutes.
Manuel Lanzini, back in the West Ham side after a spell out injured, showed what they have been missing recently with a vicious, swerving shot which crashed back off the inside of Mignolet’s post.
Unfortunately the Argentinean midfielder, who had been the game’s most influential player, limped off just before half-time with what looked like a recurrence of his thigh injury.
West Ham continued to cause Liverpool problems, though, with Aaron Cresswell’s deflected shot forcing Mignolet to save at his near post.
Liverpool, by contrast, were dismal in attack in the first half, and yet they were inches away from going in level at half-time after Can’s curler from the edge of the area clipped the crossbar.
The visitors emerged for the second half early, presumably with a flea in their ear from frustrated boss Jurgen Klopp.
They attacked with more purpose and Philippe Coutinho fizzed a shot over before Alberto Moreno’s low cross found Christian Benteke, only for the striker to miss his kick in front of goal.
But just as Liverpool threatened to get back into the game Carroll snatched it away from them, rising above Nathaniel Clyne to powerfully nod Noble’s cross past Mignolet and into the back of the net.
Carroll could have piled on the misery with another header from Cresswell’s cross but Mignolet made a fine save.
Liverpool almost pulled one back with 10 minutes remaining but Lucas’ header was cleared off the line by Noble.