Liverpool 2 West Ham 0

They have waited so long for his return at Anfield and finally it arrived, as Daniel Sturridge came off the bench to re-join his Liverpool team mates in a competitive match at last. Sturridge's value to the Reds had been escalated during his prolonged absence from the side to seemingly epic proportions, but he ably demonstrated what the patient fans had been missing, as he scored shortly after coming on as a second-half substitute.

How the Reds have missed him in a period when they have exited the Champions League and Capital One Cup, besides seeing their Premier League ambitions severely dented.

According to manager Brendan Rodgers, Sturridge was in "top-class condition" during the week in training but he was not risked from the outset, as the Reds preferred to start with Raheem Sterling up front instead.

Liverpool had dominated possession and chances in the first-half without ever suggesting that they would find the breakthrough, until moments before the break. Sterling rolled his man cleverly in the area, and as home fans appealed for a penalty as he fell to the ground, the resultant uncertainty in the Hammers' defence presented Lazar Markovic with a golden opportunity, only for the Serbian to smash his shot wide of the post.

Nil-nil at the break, but Liverpool upped the tempo in the second period and were ahead after 51 minutes, as Sterling was slotted in on goal by Philippe Coutinho and the fast-maturing striker slotted home.

Still the home fans could not rest easy and West Ham retained an interest at just one goal behind. Rodgers called for his man to prove his worth and he delivered emphatically, as Sturridge came off the bench and it seemed like he'd never been away. Coutinho shimmied to find space in the West Ham half and found Sturridge bearing down on the goal.

His first touch was excellent, but he still had plenty to do from an acute angle, yet his instincts still seem intact after a five month break as he unerringly found the net.

Two-nil and the result was wrapped up for the home side with ten minutes to play. Sam Allardyce will have been even more disappointed to see his talismanic striker Andy Carroll limp off during the second-half, a man who has also suffered more than his fair share of injury problems in recent seasons.