LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Daniel Sturridge scored within 12 minutes of his return from injury to help Liverpool beat West Ham 2-0 in the Premier League on Saturday.
The 25-year-old striker came on as a second-half substitute and his angled shot in the 80th minute found the bottom right corner after he was set up by Philippe Coutinho.
Earlier, Coutinho had also set up Raheem Sterling to score in the 51st.
Liverpool moved above West Ham into seventh place with its third straight league win.
Sturridge had been missing for five months — 33 matches and 3,030 minutes of football in total — with thigh and calf injuries but showed he had lost none of his clinical finishing skills.
His short-term stand-in Raheem Sterling had scored his fifth goal in 10 matches to put the Reds on the road to victory but Sturridge applied the finishing touch to put the result beyond doubt.
Sturridge's 22-minute run-out, having replaced Lazar Markovic, could not have gone better and it ensured another England striker did not grab the headlines on his return to Anfield.
Exactly four years to the day Liverpool signed Andy Carroll in a club record of 35 million pounds (then $56 million) but, having been unceremoniously dumped by Brendan Rodgers, the big front man arrived with a point to prove.
The only points Carroll made in the first half, however, seemed to come from his elbow as he caught Emre Can in the mouth and Markovic in the face either end of the half.
Aside from one header, easily saved by Simon Mignolet, Carroll was quiet. After the break his clumsiness continued when he was booked for catching Can with a late, sliding tackle. He appeared to injure himself and was replaced by Carlton Cole soon after.
Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana — back in the starting line-up for the rested Steven Gerrard — and Markovic had their best opportunities while Sterling wanted a penalty just before the break after Joey O'Brien appeared to haul him to the floor.
However, the West Ham defence could not get near the England forward for his goal six minutes after halftime when he slotted Coutinho's brilliant through-ball past Adrian.
Having received a rapturous reception from Liverpool fans starved of his goal threat for far too long, Sturridge rewarded them with a well-placed strike after exchanging passes with Coutinho.
It was almost like he had not been away but it was evident there was some rustiness when he snatched at the rebound from fellow substitute Jordan Ibe's shot.