Liverpool, desperately seeking to rediscover the winning touch, had to settle for a goalless draw in a Premiership thriller at Upton Park. In a superb match that had just about everything, Liverpool displayed plenty of quality in their passing, but spoilt it with unimaginative finishing.
If Liverpool had the edge in skill, though, the Hammers cancelled that out with their determination and teamwork, and thoroughly merited their point. Steve McManaman's speed gave the home side several anxious moments and in the opening minutes he made a fine chance that Robbie Fowler wasted.
West Ham hit back for Ian Bishop to blast a tremendous shot through a forest of players, only to be denied by a magnificent save from Liverpool goalkeeper David James. Then McManaman made a wonderful break, but shot straight at Hammers goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko.
In the 40th minute Steve Potts broke through for West Ham and forced another super save from James, who turned round his shot.
One of Liverpool's best chances came right on half-time, when McManaman's powerful running finished with a cut-back to Fowler, who volleyed over from only a few feet.
Liverpool again made the running on the restart, but again failed to capitalise -- either because of a poor final ball or weak finishing. In the 51st minute it looked as if Stan Collymore might open their account, but he was too close to Miklosko and the ball span out for a corner. The Hammers keeper then made another great save from McManaman, but the home side replied with Iain Dowie almost catching James by surprise with a back flick which the Liverpool keeper just managed to turn round.
Liverpool manager Roy Evans was far from downcast tonight, despite the Reds' failure to take more than a point at West Ham. Reflecting on the 0-0 Upton Park draw, the Anfield boss said: "I thought it was a fair result. I was pleased with our defensive performance tonight, especially in the second half. I thought our display showed a bit more belief in ourselves. However, I have never seen so many shots from both teams as we had in the first half. I suppose from a manager's point of view that was not a good thing. I thought with Neil Ruddock back it gave us a better balance."
West Ham manager Harry Redknapp said: "I have to be very satisfied with this result. From my point of view Keith Rowland, Alvin Martin and Steve Potts were magnificent. The three centre-half tactics that we played tonight were very successful."
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