Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Philippe Coutinho led Liverpool to a 4-0 win over West Ham United in the Premier League on Sunday, scoring twice.
Both teams attacked freely in the first half, and it was Liverpool who took a late lead through Daniel Sturridge.
Two quick goals from Coutinho secured the win after the break, while Divock Origi added a goal as well. The result puts the Reds in prime position to finish ahead of Arsenal, who are down four points with a match in hand.
Off The Ball shared the teams for Sunday’s match, with Sturridge handed a spot in the starting XI:
Off The Ball @offtheball
Teams for West Ham v Liverpool. Sturridge, Lallana and Origi all starting. Irish Under 21 player Declan Rice on the bench for West Ham https://t.co/TOiWz7HwUI
5/14/2017, 12:17:09 PM
West Ham started the clash well, and Sam Byram went close to scoring after seven minutes, firing a shot wide after a quick break.
The chance seemed to wake up the visitors, who started seeing more of the ball and mustering looks of their own. Joel Matip hit the crossbar with a thundering header, while on the other side of the pitch, Edimilson Fernandes drew a fine save from Simon Mignolet.
Squawka’s Mitch Maddon enjoyed the action:
Mitch Waddon @MitchWaddon
.@Squawka Edimilson Fernandes now sees a long-range effort tipped out for a corner – good game so far, this.
5/14/2017, 1:27:10 PM
Liverpool took control of the ball more as the half wore on, and chances became rarer. Sturridge sent a warning sign to the hosts after 32 minutes, aiming a shot into the side netting.
Three minutes later, the England international broke the deadlock. Coutinho unlocked the defence with a simple pass, and Sturridge rounded the goalkeeper before slotting the ball home.
The Reds were in complete control but nearly gave away their advantage late in the half, as Andre Ayew twice struck the post from just a few yards out. Paddy Power did not understand how he missed that chance:
Liverpool came out with intensity to start the second half, and Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum drew a series of saves from goalkeeper Adrian.
The Hammers responded to the pressure with two substitutions, introducing Ashley Fletcher and Sofiane Feghouli. They didn’t have much of an impact, as Liverpool continued to dominate, with Wijnaldum hitting the crossbar.
The rebound fell to Coutinho, who produced some lovely skill to find space before hammering home a shot to double the lead. Per WhoScored.com, the Brazilian is prolific from range:
Philippe Coutinho: Only Christian Eriksen (12) has scored more PL goals from outside the box in the last 3 seasons than Coutinho (11)
5/14/2017, 2:33:07 PM
The goal seemed to break West Ham’s confidence, and just minutes later, Coutinho struck again. While the hosts claimed a penalty, the Reds hit on the counter, with the Brazilian eventually working the ball home.
James Collins was the player who appealed the most instead of defending, and not only did it cost his team a goal, he also was carded. Men in Blazers couldn’t help themselves:
Men in Blazers @MenInBlazers
It is sometimes easy to forget James Collins is a Professional Footballer. He gets paid money for these performances
5/14/2017, 2:35:39 PM
The onslaught continued, with Origi hitting the crossbar from 20 yards out. Courinho had a chance to complete his hat-trick, but his free-kick failed to hit the target.
More goals seemed inevitable, and Origi was rewarded for a fine outing after 76 minutes, converting from close range.
Liverpool’s final match of the season will be at home against Middlesbrough, while West Ham visit Burnley.