Jota scores winner as Liverpool beats West Ham to go top

Diogo Jota's late strike against West Ham helped Liverpool win 2-1 at Anfield after Mohamed Salah cancelled out Pablo Fornals' opener.

Diogo Jota celebrates after scoring Liverpool's winner against West Ham United.   -  getty images

Substitute Diogo Jota grabbed the winner as Liverpool ground out a 2-1 victory over West Ham United at Anfield on Saturday to take the lead at the top of the Premier League and equal a club record of 63 home league matches unbeaten.

Defending champion Liverpool has 16 points from seven games, three points more than Everton which plays at Newcastle United on Sunday.

West Ham took a 10th-minute lead through Pablo Fornals, with the Spanish midfielder driving home after a poor header out from Joe Gomez landed straight at his feet.

Liverpool, which handed a first league start to 23-year-old centre back Nate Phillips, had plenty of possession but struggled to break down David Moyes' well-drilled West Ham side with the host lacking its usual tempo and incisiveness.

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Liverpool drew level just before the break when Mohamed Salah was fouled in the area by a clumsy challenge from Arthur Masuaku and the Egyptian, who had thrown himself to the ground dramatically, stepped up to dispatch the spot kick.

Jota thought he had put Liverpool in front when he drilled into an empty net after Lukasz Fabianski had blocked a Sadio Mane drive but the goal was ruled out after the referee decided, after looking at the pitchside monitor, that Mane had committed a foul while sliding in on the keeper.

Yet former Wolves forward Jota did get the winner when he was put through by a clever pass into the box from substitute Xherdan Shaqiri and the Portuguese made no mistake with his third goal in as many home games for the club.

“The world is in a difficult place and we are happy to be allowed to play football. So we have to try everything to win football games. It's not about shining, or flying, or whatever, it's about hard work,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

“That was absolutely necessary against this opponent. It's not about the simple stuff because they are too good for that - you need to be cheeky, tricky as well, and we were,” he added.

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West Ham manager David Moyes was upset with the decision to award Salah a penalty after his reaction to contact in the box.

“I'm amazed that a penalty was given in the first half. I cant believe that were allowing those sorts of penalties to be awarded,” he said.

“We weren't clinical enough at times. We missed a couple of really good opportunities to get another goal. I wouldnt say we were unlucky today, but Im really disappointed when we were 1-0 up that the penalty was given.”

Klopp hails Phillips

Klopp described central defender Nathaniel Phillips as a “monster” in the air.

“He's a brilliant guy, a smart guy, intelligent, everything. He knows... we both laugh about it... I was not really easy on the eye and he's not easy on the eye, we're both not (Lionel) Messi but who cares,” Klopp told the BBC on Saturday.

“In the air he's a monster and he loves having challenges on the pitch. He was incredible for his first game. I'm pretty sure everybody can imagine how nervy that can be after a long wait.”

Klopp said Phillips, who played his first competitive game for the team in last season's FA Cup victory over Everton, might not have been at Anfield this season.

“It's a crazy story. Three years ago he was on his way to America to go to college. Then he came to our second team, then we found him, he trained with us and impressed us,” Klopp said.

“In the summer, 12 Championship (second tier) teams wanted him. It was clear he would go and I was fine with it at that moment but it didn't work out. Good for us. Tonight he was spot on, helped the team incredibly. It was a good performance.”

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