Liverpool 2 West Ham 0: Brendan Rodgers gets a lift from the return of supersub Daniel Sturridge

Sturridge had been out for five months

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The Independent Football

The Kop does not yet revere Daniel Sturridge in the way it once did Luis Suarez, but the roar that greeted his arrival after a five-month absence, and the goal he scored after rising from the bench, suggested Liverpool fans knew what they had been missing.

Within 12 minutes of coming on, Sturridge had scored the goal that sealed a 2-0 victory over West Ham United, a sumptuous piece of control with his left foot preceding a crashing finish with his right.

His manager, Brendan Rodgers, suggested Sturridge’s return could be a turning point for Liverpool’s season. “I think you’ve got a genuine top European talent in Daniel Sturridge,” he said. “He provides the light. When you add a top-class player like him to it you can go to another level. When he came on the team looked very good.

“He’s still a bit of time off starting. You saw when he came on he was still getting used to the surroundings again in the 25 minutes or so he had on the pitch. Until he’s ready to start he’s going to be a great asset for us off the bench.”

 

A record of just four home wins before this match contrasted sharply with the 16 last season, but the outlook is now brighter for Liverpool, with growing belief that a late run could yet salvage them a Champions League berth – something which looked so unlikely a few weeks ago.

While Rodgers can now see the light, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce’s mood darkened as they slipped below their opponents.

Diafra Sakho headed the winner in West Ham’s FA Cup win at Bristol City the previous weekend, but a row with Senegal over his absence from the African Cup of Nations with a back injury led to him missing the game at Anfield – a decision, according to Allardyce, not taken on Fifa’s instructions, as reported.

He said: “It was a decision taken by the football club. I don’t know the ins and outs of it. I was just told to say that, under the circumstances, it would be better if we didn’t play him at the moment.”

Andy Carroll limped off on an unhappy Anfield return, joining Carl Jenkinson, Cheikhou Kouyaté and James Tomkins on the sidelines; Allardyce said he would oppose any player leaving before the transfer window closes amid the “biggest injury crisis of the season”.

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