Cole goes back to the future and warms more than just benches

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The Independent Online

In those long ago days when Joe Cole emerged at West Ham, he was going to be the future of English football. It never quite worked out like that, but yesterday he returned to the East End and rediscovered the joy.

Cole came on as a sub and turned a match which had been shaping up to provide further confirmation of Liverpool's mid-table mediocrity. He also provided a hint that his glorious future may not all be behind him.

Liverpool arrived without a striker, the suspension of Luis Suarez and Fabio Borini's foot injury robbing the manager, Brendan Rodgers, of his only two options. Rodgers' solution was to deploy Jonjo Shelvey in what he described as the "false nine" role popularised by Spain. Shelvey responded by forcing James Collins into an own goal which saw Liverpool leapfrog West Ham into 10th.

Then Cole, who played on the right wing, began drifting inside, Liverpool became more fluid and West Ham more porous. When they lost Mohamed Diamé with a hamstring they were broken.

With 15 minutes left Sterling combined with Shelvey, and Cole timed his run perfectly to score his first Premier League goal since April 2011. The joy and relief showed, then he remembered where he was and stilled his celebrations. Three minutes later, with West Ham reeling, Jordan Henderson crossed and Collins deflected it over Jussi Jaaskelainen to hand Liverpool the points.

Liverpool deservedly took an 11th-minute lead. Former West Ham player Glen Johnson rocketed a drive into the top left corner from 25 yards, but he too did not celebrate.

Earlier Diamé provided the breakthrough when his volley struck Joe Allen's raised arm and Noble scored from the spot. Seven minutes later from a free-kick Gerrard headed past his own goalkeeper. "A very good own goal," said Hammers' half-time announcer.

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