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Liverpool is closer to the title after brilliant win over West Ham

It was a unique gift for Peter Crouch. The English forward celebrated his 26th birthday by scoring his team’s winner in a 2-1 win over West Ham United that put his side in the thick of the title race.

Second-half goals from Dutch frontman Dirk Kuyt and Crouch made it nine wins from 10 league games for Liverpool, who have 49 points from 25 matches. Chelsea FC have 51 and leaders Manchester United are on 57, both from 24 games.

It's important to say that West Ham’s Spanish player Kepa Blanco came off the bench to score on his debut in the 77th minute, but the London club remain mired in the drop zone, 18th in the table. Reading moved up to eighth with a 3-2 comeback win over Wigan Athletic, who are just above the relegation places after suffering a club record eighth league defeat in a row.

We must notice that Liverpool had to battle for their FA Cup final triumph over West Ham United last season, and now they were clearly on a roll after beating Chelsea in their last league outing and made a good start.

West Ham was directed by Alan Curbishley, and they soaked up the pressure and finished the stronger of the two sides at the break, creating a couple of chances. Despite that effort, their hopes were dashed right from the restart, when Liverpool kicked off, went straight up the West Ham end and scored after 10 seconds when Kuyt arrowed a shot in off the bar. Crouch rounded off a fine passing move by making it 2-0 with a deft 20-metre sidefoot off a John Arne Riise pass soon afterwards and Liverpool looked good for the points despite Blanco’s late strike.

Rafael Benitez, who raised a few smiles from his players by slipping over on the touchline while trying to control the ball, played down the prospect of becoming champions: “We cannot think about the title,” he admitted.
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