Steven Gerrard fires Liverpool back to the top of the table

Sunday 06 Apr 2014
Three Lions Gerrard, Sterling and Henderson celebrate Liverpool's opener

England captain Steven Gerrard was again Liverpool's hero as he fired in a brace to send the Reds back to the top of the Premier League.

Gerrard bagged two penalties against West Ham United at Upton Park to secure his side's ninth consecutive victory and put them two points clear in the race for the title.

His opener arrived in the final minute of the first half after former England Under-21s defender James Tomkins had handled the ball inside the area.

Steven Gerrard: Premier League 2013-14

  • Games played: 29
  • Starts: 28
  • Goals scored: 13
  • Penalties scored: 10

The midfielder held his nerve to send keeper Adrian the wrong way and put the Anfield outfit in front.

However, Guy Demel levelled from close-range in first-half injury time following a melee in the Liverpool six-yard box.

Sam Allardyce's side were posing problems for Brendan Rodgers' men, who were fielding six Englishmen in their starting eleven; Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Jon Flanagan, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge.

The Hammers also had an England World Cup hopeful in their ranks, former Liverpool striker Andy Carroll, who gave his old team-mates plenty to think about as he led the line well throughout.

In the end, though, it was Gerrard who had the final say on proceedings, slamming home a 71st-minute winner from 12 yards after Flanagan went down under a challenge from Adrian.

Andy Carroll in action for West Ham against Liverpool

Gerrard chases down former club-mate Andy Carroll

Sterling almost sealed the three points in the closing stages with a fine effort that was curling towards the top corner, but the Spanish stopper parried away.

Gerrard, though, refused to get carried away with his side’s superb run of form and is hoping they can produce a similar kind of result when they face a huge game against title rivals Manchester City next weekend.

He said: "We want this really bad and we showed that in the second half. I'm not convinced that we will win the league yet.

"We have five games left and they are all huge. If we beat Manchester City next week then all that will give us is three more points.

"Each side is asking us different questions. They were very direct. It was a tough game, a tough 90 minutes but there was great resolve and character from the squad."

Earlier in the afternoon, Liverpool's Merseyside rivals Everton had kicked off a great day for both sides of the city as they beat Arsenal 3-0 at Goodison Park.

Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku gave the Toffees a 2-0 half-time lead before Mikel Arteta's own-goal, off a Kevin Mirallas strike, took them within a point of the Gunners with a game in hand.

England left-back Leighton Baines was again impressive for Roberto Martinez's side and had a hand in the opener. His run and cross found Lukaku, whose initial shot was blocked before Naismith rolled home the loose ball. 

Ross Barkley causes Arsenal problems

Ross Barkley helped Everton see off Arsenal at Goodison Park

Everton also included Under-21s defender John Stones in their starting eleven as well as Gareth Barry and Leon Osman.

Osman, however, left the field injured after only nine minutes and was replaced by midfielder Ross Barkley who is targeting a place in Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad.

And the 19-year-old played an instrumental role in the Blues attacking play and also forced a save from Wojciech Szczesny.

When they edged into an unassailable 3-0 lead with just under 30 minutes to play, it prompted Gunners boss Arsene Wenger into a double substitution which saw the return to action of Aaron Ramsey and the introduction of England winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Chamberlain was intent on making an impact, providing Arsenal with some of their most positive play all afternoon and he also struck a shot against Tim Howard's crossbar, but it was not Arsenal's day.

England's next game is at home against Peru on Friday 30 May - their final home game before the World Cup. To buy tickets, click here.

By Jamie Bradbury FA Editor