Philippe Coutinho scored a brace to put Liverpool just three points away from guaranteeing their return to the Champions League next season as West Ham were tournced 0-4 this afternoon.
Virtuoso display from Coutinho puts Reds back on track for Europe
Jürgen Klopp's side were ahead when Coutinho's sublime pass was converted by Daniel Sturridge in the first half in east London. The Brazilian stole the spotlight again in the second half with a superb solo strike and a cool finish to put the Reds three goals ahead before Divock Origi netted to cap the Reds' swashbuckling display.
Liverpool nudge Man City from third
The result means Liverpool retake third place from Manchester City in the table with a point over Pep Guradiola’s team who have a game in hand. However, Klopp's men will be guaranteed a Champions League berth if they beat relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield next Sunday. In the unlikely event Arsenal lose at home to relegated Sunderland on Tuesday then Liverpool will clinch a top four spot without even having to play.
Liverpool began to find their momentum after a couple of early, isolated West Ham chances and Sturridge released Adam Lallana, who shot straight at Adrián. The Hammers keeper also had to have his wits about him to keep out James Milner's low drive before watching Coutinho's long-range strike drift just over the top of his crossbar. Milner dragged his shot wide when well placed but the breakthrough eventually arrived through Sturridge on 35 minutes.
Sturridge opens the scoring against West Ham
Coutinho sliced open the West Ham defence with a majestic raking ball and Sturridge strode through, skipped around Adrián and slotted home his first goal since January 2nd. The visitors could have seen their lead reduced just moments before half-time. Manuel Lanzini's corner found its way to Andre Ayew but the striker hit the post from two-yards out before incredibly repeating the trick from the rebound.
Had it entered, it could have changed the course of the match but instead, Liverpool took full control with Adrián keeping the hosts in the game. Origi's low shot was pushed out before Lallana's drive was blocked by the Spaniard's feet. When West Ham failed to clear, Emre Can freed Wijnaldum and Adrián again came to the home side's rescue at his near post. The crossbar was still shaking from Wijnaldum's fierce volley when Coutinho gave Liverpool breathing space in the 57th minute.
Coutinho kills off weary Hammers
Coutinho weaved his way through tired West Ham bodies before finally beating Adrián with a fine, low drive. It was game over when Coutinho struck again five minutes later on the counter-attack. West Ham were angered that Matip escaped with an elbow on Winston Reid but Liverpool broke and Coutinho trotted past Collins easily before netting. There was still time for Origi to poke home from close-range in the 76th minute following Wijnaldum's miscued shot.