Win over Liverpool one of West Ham's greatest: Bilic

Angelo Ogbonna celebrates scoring the second goal for West Ham.
Angelo Ogbonna celebrates scoring the second goal for West Ham. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Fans with long memories may disagree but West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic believes their last-gasp, extra-time FA Cup win over Liverpool on Tuesday will go down as one of the London club's greatest triumphs.

Angelo Ogbonna's header in the dying seconds of extra time secured a 2-1 victory that sent West Ham into the fifth round, where they will face second-tier Blackburn Rovers.

They were playing a weakened Liverpool side and were often under severe pressure. But, with emotions in the stands running high as the club prepare to end their 112-year stay at Upton Park, the Hammers' first victory over the Reds in the FA Cup was particularly sweet for Bilic.

"It will go down in the history of West Ham's greatest games," the Croat told BT Sport. "Liverpool, our last season at Upton Park, a night kick-off, goal in the last minute, and we deserved it. I am very proud of the guys. They left their hearts on the pitch."

West Ham - due to move to London's Olympic Stadium at the end of the season - were winless in their eight meetings with Liverpool in this competition. Their most recent and painful defeat by the Merseysiders arrived on penalties in the final 10 years ago.

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  • Angelo Ogbonna's 120th-minute header gave West Ham their first win in nine FA Cup games against Liverpool.

But Liverpool held no fear for the London side, who had completed a Premier League double over their opponents this season, and the Hammers' third win in four matches against Juergen Klopp's team was the best of the lot for Bilic.

"If we produce a performance like this, we are capable of beating any team in England," he said.

For Liverpool manager Klopp, who returned to the dugout after missing their match on Saturday to have his appendix removed, it was a frustrating evening.

"They got a free kick without a foul and we conceded a goal," he said in reference to referee Roger East's decision that Lucas Leiva had committed a foul with a penalty shoot-out just moments away.

"If you are satisfied with the performance of the referee, write it. If not, say it. There were a lot of situations that, on a better day, I would say are funny decisions. I would have made a few different decisions, on both sides."

The German welcomed three influential first-team players but it was another youthful starting XI for the Reds.

Philippe Coutinho started the tie and scored with an impudent free kick, while Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi made encouraging substitute appearances.

Yet, striker Christian Benteke, one of Liverpool's few experienced starters, continued to frustrate the away fans. He missed three good chances, including a one-on-one against West Ham goalkeeper Darren Randolph in extra time.

"It's not the nicest moment in his career but he has to work hard," said Klopp after Benteke's goal-less run extended to 11 matches.

"He wants to score and we need him to score. We will work on it in the days, weeks and months."

The loss leaves the Europa League as Liverpool's only realistic hope of silverware this season.

They are currently 12 points below the Champions League places in the Premier League, with -4 goal difference, but Klopp says it is all part of the learning curve for his players.

"We are Liverpool FC and this moment is not the most sunny side," he said. "But tomorrow when we get up... the sun will shine."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2016, with the headline 'Win over Liverpool one of West Ham's greatest: Bilic'. Print Edition | Subscribe