Premier League – Liverpool waste chance to open gap at top

Liverpool failed to open up a three-point gap at the top of the Premier League as they were held to a 0-0 draw by West Ham at Anfield.

FOOTBALL 2008/09 Premier League West Ham striker Carlton Cole challenges Liverpool's Xabi Alonso - 0

Rafael Benitez’s side recorded their second consecutive goalless draw at home that sees them go just one point above Chelsea, while the Hammers move up and into 13th.

The final whistle was greeted by a chorus of boos from the home support, who saw their team miss several good opportunities to open the scoring.

Chelsea’s home defeat at the hands of Arsenal give Rafael Benitez’s side the chance to go clear at the top of the table, at a time of year when – in recent times – their title hopes have already been quashed.

They had all of the first-half possession against a West Ham side that looked set on playing for a goalless draw right from kick-off, but could not take any of the chances they created.

Big centre-back Sami Hyypia headed one clear header from a corner over the bar, and another headed effort blocked on the line by Carlton Cole.

They had another goal-bound shot cleared when goalkeeper Robert Green‘s one-handed punch fell to Albert Riera, but the Spanish winger’s first-time strike was blocked by Matthew Upson.

Playing without the injured Fernando Torres played alongside him, lone Liverpool frontman Robbie Keane did not see much of the ball, due in equal part to his team’s lack width and the excellent defensive job done by the two West Ham centre-backs, Upson and James Collins.

The Irishman had one clear opportunity, but his strike from a tight angle was blocked by Collins.

West Ham had former Liverpool striker in their attack, and the Welshman almost opened the scoring against the run of play with a quick break only to see his long-range strike crash off the inside of the post with Pepe Reina beaten at full stretch.

Green played his part in keeping the scores level after the break when he tipped Yossi Benayoun‘s strike over bar, before saving Dirk Kuyt‘s near post strike in the closing stages.

Hyypia saw another headed chance glanced wide as Liverpool became more desperate to score, with young forward David N’Gog and then Ryan Babel coming on for Keane and Riera respectively.

As Liverpool chased the game, West Ham enjoyed more chances, with Cole heading wide from a corner before late substitute Luis Boa Morte blasted a shot into the crowd and Cole saw a shot saved after being wrongly flagged for offside.

Even Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard could not find his range, seeing several shots blocked, mis-kicked or fired off target from the edge of the box as Gianfranco Zola’s side held on for a point that leaves them unbeaten in three matches.

Tony Mabert / Eurosport

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