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Coutinho edges Liverpool closer to Champions League return

Philippe Coutinho scored a brace to put Liverpool within touching distance of the Champions League in today’s 4-0 trouncing of West Ham.
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Coutinho edges Liverpool closer to Champions League return
Jan KrugerGetty Images

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.

Daniel Sturridge sets Liverpool on their way against West Ham
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Daniel Sturridge sets Liverpool on their way against West HamSEAN DEMPSEYEFE

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.

Coutinho scores
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Coutinho scoresJan KrugerGetty Images

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.

Coutinho makes it 0-3 against West Ham
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Coutinho makes it 0-3 against West HamDANIEL LEAL-OLIVASAFP

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.

Well played son. A Klopp hug capped off Coutinho's afternoon.
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Well played son. A Klopp hug capped off Coutinho's afternoon.Peter NichollsREUTERS

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.


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