LIVERPOOL: Leicester defender Wout Faes had an evening to forget as Liverpool ended the year by closing the gap to the Premier League’s top four.
Faes became just the fourth player to score two own goals in a Premier League game, helping Liverpool come from behind to beat Leicester 2-1 on Friday in a match marked by defensive errors from both sides.
After a tough start to the season, Liverpool are now just two points behind fourth-place Tottenham heading into 2023 following a run of four straight wins.
West Ham, meanwhile, is staring at a crisis after a fifth straight loss. David Moyes’ team conceded two goals against the run of play to lose 2-0 at home against Brentford, and the London club could find itself in last place once the rest of the weekend games are played.
Both games started with a tribute to Pele, who died Thursday at the age of 82, as will the rest of the weekend fixtures.
At Anfield, Liverpool gifted the hosts the lead in the fourth minute with some calamitous defending as Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall was allowed to run straight down the middle of the pitch unopposed after a long goal kick to chip the ball over Alisson Becker.
But on a night when Liverpool’s forward were repeatedly off target, they got some much needed help from Faes.
The Belgian center-back had disastrous seven-minute spell before halftime as he first ignored a shout from his goalkeeper Danny Ward to leave a low cross from Alexander-Arnold and lunged in to make an attempted clearance, only to mishit the ball so it looped over Ward and in at the far post.
Darwin Nunez was then played through on goal by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and dinked a shot over Ward that bounced back off the far post. The back-tracking Faes tried to clear the ball but only succeeded in hammering it into the net — and then had to endure taunts of “shoot” from the Liverpool fans every time he touched the ball.
“He’s a strong character, and he will get over that this evening,” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said.
It was far from a vintage performance from Jurgen Klopp’s team but Liverpool now have four successive league victories for the first time since April.
“It’s all about getting three points and trying to get into a position in the league where we feel like we need to be and haven’t been this season,” Liverpool defender Trent Alexander Arnold said. “These are the ones that you look back on and know that you needed to win it. Whether you win well or ugly, it doesn’t really matter.”
West Ham would be more than happy to get an ugly win, after outplaying Brentford for large parts of the game and still losing.
The team was booed off the field after first-half goals from Ivan Toney and Josh Dasilva inflicted another damaging loss on Moyes.
“I thought we played well today,” Moyes said. “The goals were completely against the run of play, we’ve lost two goals to throw-ins. We made a lot of opportunities, we just couldn’t take them.”
Brentford climbed to ninth, although the win was came at a cost as Toney left on a stretcher in stoppage time after landing awkwardly.
“He had some pain, hopefully nothing serious,” Brentford said of Toney, who scored his 13th goal of the season. “It is something with the knee, we hope it is nothing serious.”