Robinson breaks duck in style

Mike Robinson struck a magnificent hat-trick at West Ham, but Liverpool convincing victory was marred by the unfortunate dismissal of Craig Johnston.

On a wet and windy afternoon the Reds recalled England defender Neal in place of Nicol. Skipper Souness was declared fit after pulling out of the Scottish squad in midweek and Hodgson took the substitute's role.

The home side defending a 100 per cent home record, were at full strength.

Liverpool came forward quickly with Hansen pushing into the attack from the halfway line. He slipped the ball to Souness who tried a low shot from 20 yards that was well wide.

The slippery conditions were difficult for the players, both sides conceded a number of free kicks as they strived to take the initiative.

The champions gained a corner on the left after 11 minutes from which the Hammers were lucky to escape. Dalglish lofted the ball back in and full back Stewart, attempting to head clear, turned the ball on the top of his own crossbar. From the resulting corner kick, Neal got in a low shot that forced Parkes to go down quickly to his right to make a diving save.

Liverpool got the vital early breakthrough after 15 minutes, a goal that can be put down to the elements and quick thinking of Robinson. Bruce Grobbelaar, with the wind at his back, hammered a kick the length of the field that carried straight into the West Ham area with one high bounce. Robinson used his pace to race through and head the ball over the advancing Parkes, for his first League goal for Liverpool.

It was all the Merseysiders deserved, having created all the early chances by taking the game to the League leaders. Liverpool gained another corner on the left that was floated in once more by Dalglish and Martin was forced to turn it behind for yet another kick on the opposite flank. From this, Souness hammered a tremendous effort just over the bar.

The champions' pressure paid off when they increased their lead after 25 minutes. Johnston had sent in a high cross from the left and as Bonds tried to clear he only succeeded in heading the ball high into the air. As it dropped Robinson was on it like a flash to net his second goal from close range.

As the pace and excitement mounted Johnston found himself in the referee's notebook, but the visitors were obviously delighted with their magnificent start.

Kennedy found the space to move well forward and he put in a low shot that skidded dangerously along the wet surface before Parkes went down quickly to his left to make a vital stop.

The Londoners were being completely outplayed and when Robinson glanced a long ball out of defence into the path of Rush, the Welsh international tried a snap shot from an angle that was saved by Parkes at the second attempt. Little had been seen of the Hammers as an attacking force. Six minutes from the break West Ham tested Grobbelaar for the first time, a low shot from Whitton that was dealt with comfortably. But the visitors' pressure continued, the Anfield men gaining three more corners in the final minutes of the half that were scrambled clear by the shaky home defence.

Half-time: West Ham 0, Liverpool 2.

It was now Liverpool's turn to face the swirling wind that had caused the home side so many problems in the first half. The West Ham defence, with Bonds making his 700th appearance, had been in all kinds of trouble - giving away a whole batch of corners.

Parkes decided to emulate Grobbelaar's long-ball tactics now that he had the wind at his back, but Hansen was in control as he beat Goodard to the ball. Another long and high ball towards the visitors' area saw Neal fail to get in a clean header and Goddard chased on into the box. He went down as Hansen challenged strongly, but the referee waved play on as the home fans called for a penalty.

With the rain continuing to pour down Souness tried to get Rush clear down the right but the pace of the ball beat the striker and Bonds was able to shepherd it over the line for a goal kick.

Rush hurt

The Merseysiders then suffered a real blow after 57 minutes when they lost striker Rush with what looked like an ankle injury. The Welshman had gone down under a heavy challenge from Bonds and Ronnie Moran immediately signalled for Hodgson to come off the bench.

It was a monsoon downpour sweeping into the eyes of Grobbelaar, but the Hammers were struggling to really test the visitors' keeper. As Bonds tried to play a forward ball into Liverpool's territory, Hansen was perfectly placed to make an excellent interception.

The champions were then stunned after 64 minutes when Craig Johnston found himself sent off the field after a tackle on Bonds. It seemed an innocuous challenge but the West Ham skipper reacted, and the referee, who had booked the Liverpool man in the first half, immdiately pointed to the dressing room.

Bonds immediately tried to put things right by arguing with the referee, but the damage was done.

The ten men of Liverpool had a let-off when Goddard gave Devonshire a clear shooting chance in the box. Grobbelaar made a superb reflex save to block the ball with his feet and it spun out for a corner kick that was cleared.

Joe Fagan's men having lost their last two League game, were in no mood to allow their two goal advantage to slip away and they stunned the home side when Robinson completed his hat trick.

The goal was created with a superb flick from Dalglish into the path of the striker, who hammered the ball first-time past the helpless Parkes from 10 yards.

With only minutes remaining Devonshire pulled back for the home side. 

Copyright - Liverpool Football Echo

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