LONDON, January 31- Daniel Sturridge put nearly five months of injury frustration behind him by coming off the bench to score in Liverpool’s 2-0 win at home to West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday.
The 25-year-old striker had been sidelined with thigh and calf injuries since September, with his fitness problems coming while on England duty.
Raheem Sterling broke the deadlock in the 51st minute at Anfield before Sturridge, a 67th minute replacement for Lazar Markovic, marked just his fourth Liverpool appearance of the season by slotting home 10 minutes from time as the Reds bounced back from their League Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea.
Premier League leaders Chelsea will go eight points clear of second-placed Manchester City if they beat the defending champions in Saturday’s late kick-off at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester United climbed into third place with a 3-1 win over basement club Leicester at Old Trafford.
The Foxes produced one of the upsets of the season in coming from 3-1 down to beat United 5-3 when the teams last met in September.
But there was no danger of a similar revival in the return fixture as Louis van Gaal’s men went 3-0 up before half-time through goals from Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and an own-goal by Wes Morgan.
Marcin Wasilewski pulled a goal back for Leicester 10 minutes from time.
United will only be in the top three briefly if Southampton regain third place by avoiding defeat at home to Swansea on Sunday when Arsenal, also vying for a top-four finish, face Aston Villa at the Emirates.
– Kane double –
Tottenham Hotspur completed a fine week with a 3-0 win away to West Bromwich Albion where Harry Kane scored twice to take his tally for the season to an impressive 20 goals.
Christian Eriksen scored his third goal in two matches and 11th of the season to give Mauricio Pochettino’s men the lead at the Hawthorns.
Eriksen, who scored twice in the midweek League Cup semi-final win at Sheffield United that gave Spurs a 3-2 aggregate victory, has become renowned as a late-goal specialist.
But the Denmark midfielder needed just six minutes to put Spurs in front on Saturday when, as he did against the Blades, he curled in a superb free-kick from outside the box.
Kane doubled Spurs’ lead in the 15th minute before beating Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster from the penalty spot in the 64th minute after Kyle Walker’s cross hit the hand of Joleon Lescott.
Meanwhile Crystal Palace saw a run of four successive wins in all competitions since manager Alan Pardew arrived from Newcastle ended with a 1-0 loss to Everton at Selhurst Park.
Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal of the game as early as the second minute when he followed up after a shot from Steven Naismith was blocked by Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni.
Second-bottom Queens Park Rangers’ dreadful away record continued as they suffered an 11th straight league defeat on the road with a 3-1 loss to former manager Mark Hughes’s Stoke City side as Potters forward Jonathan Walters scored his first top-flight hat-trick.
QPR’s run of 10 successive away defeats was already a Premier League record and they fell behind at the Britannia Stadium when Walters capitalised on poor defending in the 21st minute.
Walters added a second goal after a neat one-two with Stephen Ireland before Niko Kranjcar pulled a goal back in the 36th minute.
Jermain Defoe scored his first goal since returning to English football from Toronto as he netted Sunderland’s second in a 2-0 win at home to Burnley after Connor Wickham put the Black Cats ahead.
Saturday’s early kick-off saw John Carver enjoy his first win as Newcastle boss after a 3-0 success away to Hull ended a run of four games without a victory since Pardew’s exit.
Remy Cabella put Newcastle ahead five minutes before half-time with his first goal for the Magpies.
Hull claimed an equaliser in first-half stoppage time but Ahmed Elmohamady’s effort was rightly disallowed for after the Egyptian punched Andrew Robertson’s cross into the net.
Sammy Ameobi made it 2-0 with a 25-yard shot before Magpies substitute Yoan Gouffran put the result beyond doubt 12 minutes from time.