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FA Cup
Tuesday, 9th February 2016

West Ham United 2
Liverpool 1

by Staff Writer


Ten years ago this May, Alan Pardew's West Ham had the FA Cup snatched out of their hands when Steven Gerrard scored a last-gasp equaliser in circumstances that have never sat well with United fans.

So how ironic it was that in the first meeting between the two teams in the competition since, Angelo Ogbonna was to score the winning goal with virtually the last kick of the game to send Liverpool tumbling out of the Cup.

Whilst the pain of that 2006 defeat in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium will never be forgotten, a ghost was finally laid to rest at the Boleyn tonight in this fourth round replay as Slaven Bilic's class of 2016 triumphed in an epic tie that, if it was to be the last ever at this famous old stadium, was befitting of its status.

Prior to this evening, West Ham had never beaten Liverpool in the FA Cup - but this is a season unlike any other where that particular football rivalry is concerned. Following the historic 3-0 Premier League win at Anfield last September - West Ham's first there since 1963 - the Irons beat Liverpool 2-0 in the return fixture to record their first double over the Merseysiders since that same year.

And having gained a psychological advantage by bringing the tie back to the Boleyn having seen out a goalless draw at Anfield in the first meeting, Bilic's side secured a healthy slice of revenge for that 2006 Final defeat in a finish just as dramatic as that at Cardiff a decade ago.



The 2006 Final ended with a penalty shoot-out, which is exactly where this one appeared to be heading too. West Ham, who started with a strong team - and ended with one battered, bruised and depleted - took the lead on the cusp of half time when Enner Valencia's deflected cross was brilliantly converted by Michail Antonio at the far post.

Liverpool soon struck back however through Philippe Coutinho, just three minutes after the interval. The Brazilian, signed for 8.5million three years ago forced West Ham's wall to commit possibly the gravest error by jumping in the air in anticipation of a lofted strike - whilst Coutinho passed the ball underneath them and into an empty net.

Either side could have won the game prior to extra time. The visitors, who introduced Daniel Sturridge - a 12million signing from Chelsea in 2013 - to partner 32million man Christian Benteke on the hour mark had already found the woodwork in the first half, whilst West Ham did so twice - firstly through third-choice right back Joey O'Brien (a free transfer) whose deflected effort beat Simon Mignolet (cost, 9million) but not the woodwork and later when Dimitri Payet hit the post with a curling free kick.



By the time the two teams began the additional 30 minutes West Ham had already lost Winston Reid (calf), Cheik Kouyate (head injury) and Joey O'Brien (unknown) to injury. Having already utilised his full quota of substitutes Bilic watched nervously as Andy Carroll, James Collins and Enner Valencia all required treatment as extra time wore on.

Liverpool, perhaps sensing their first win against West Ham in their fourth attempt this season grabbed the initiative as the minutes ebbed away and Bilic for one was particularly keen to retain possession, urging his players from the touchline to slow down and presumably retain a little more ball with view to chancing their luck in a shoot-out.

But his players had other ideas and despite having ran themselves into the ground for nigh on 130 minutes, they pushed forward one last time. A free kick - surprisingly awarded by referee Roger East, who had a poor night - given away needlessly to the right of Liverpool's penalty area by the visitors was tailor-made for Dimitri Payet, the subject of much speculation this week.


The crowd hushed as the mercurial midfielder stepped up to deliver an outswinging ball into a packed penalty box. Bodies rose in unison in and around Liverpool's six yard area - but only one made contact.

Angelo Ogbonna, who had never scored for the Hammers rose above the pack and planted a firm header back across a despairing Mignolet. The 'keeper turned to his left to see the ball nestle in the far corner of his net. The Boleyn Ground erupted and that familiar roar broke out across the east London night sky, as it has done so many times before, but won't for much longer.

West Ham face Championship strugglers Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in the fifth round of the FA Cup on February 21.



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Player Ratings

Darren Randolph
Kept West Ham in the Cup with a couple of important second half saves.


James Tomkins
Had barely warmed up before being replaced following a nasty clash of heads with Joe Allen.


Aaron Cresswell
'Sound', as they say on the Wirral.


Winston Reid
Lucky not to concede a penalty after a clear shirt tug - otherwise solid enough.


Angelo Ogbonna
Kep Benteke in his pocket during our most recent meeting, didn't even have to try tonight.


Cheikhou Kouyate
Like TOmkins, was victim of a first half reshuffle enfoced by injury.


Alex Song
Playuing a little further forward than he is accustomed to doing.


Pedro Obiang
The usual no nonsense, quietly efficient performance.


Victor Moses
Not at the races and rightly replaced during the second half.


Dimitri Payet
His quietest game for several weeks.


Enner Valencia
Barely created a chance, his stand out moment was stacking it on the sideline as he raced to reetrieve the ball for a throw-in.


Substitutes


Joey O Brien
(Replaced Tomkins) Back in the first team squad for the first time in a while. One moment of magic on the right flank where he left three oppoennets for dead. We'll ignore the Row Z'er a few moments later.


Nikica Jelavic
(Replaced Kouyate) Benefitted from a tactical switch in the first half, put in the miles but little to show for it.


Michail Antonio
(Replaced Moses) One lung-bursting 90-yard run briefly worried Liverpool but this was not a night to see him at his attacking best.


Sam Howes
Did not play.


James Collins
Did not play.


Reece Oxford
Did not play.


Josh Cullen
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: Roger East.

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: Michail Antonio.

West Ham United

Darren Randolph, James Tomkins, Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna, Cheikhou Kouyate, Alex Song, Pedro Obiang, Victor Moses, Dimitri Payet, Enner Valencia.

Goals: None.

Booked: Mark Noble 38          .

Sent Off: Mark Noble 78    .

Liverpool

Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Caulker, Smith, Allen, Brannagan, Stewart, Ibe, Teixeira, Benteke.

Substitutes: .

Subs not used: .

Goals: n/a.

Booked: n/a.

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
Staff Writer's Man of the Match: Michail Antonio


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