Zola powered Hammers snatch draw
By Tom Dowsett
Monday 26 Oct 2009 11:18:00
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West Ham United produced a stunning second half performance to earn a creditable 2-2 home draw against London rivals Arsenal on Sunday.

The match started at a frantic pace with the Gunners coming close on two occasions, while Hammers striker Carlton Cole illustrated his considerable threat up front after seeing a wicked shot deflected wide.

It was Arsenal who made their possession count however, as they took the lead in the 16th minute when a routine Bacary Sagna cross was palmed into the path of Robin van Persie, by the hapless home 'keeper Robert Green. Undettered, however, West Ham felt aggrieved moments later when the linesman flagged Jack Collinson offside when he looked set to equalise almost immediately.

The game became increasingly frustrating for the home side as they were unable to break the Gunners down, and the North Londoners highlighted their

superiority when French defender William Gallas nodded in a van Persie corner just before the break.

Leaving the field to a chorus of boos from the Upton Park faithful, the Hammers players trudged off seemingly out of the game. It could have got even worse just after the break, but Green was on hand to deny Andrei Arshavin's deflected shot with a flying save.

 

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It needed the tactical nous of manager Gianfranco Zola to save the game for the home side. First Alessandro Diamanti was introduced for a struggling Mark Noble and Zavon Hines replaced the ineffective Guillermo Franco. Diamanti's energies started to cause uncharacteristic mistakes in the Arsenal backline and West Ham, at last, looked as though they could make a breakthrough.

The home side pulled a goal back when the excellent Cole headed in from close range following a curling free kick from strike partner Diamanti, which keeper Vito Mannone could only parry.

West Ham pressed for an equaliser and were denied a clear-cut penalty when Scott Parker was cynically felled by Gallas. Tempers became frayed and the West Ham skipper was later booked for a challenge with referee Chris Foy deemed as illegal. The hosts did gain a penalty minutes later however as Carlton Cole had his heels clipped by Alex Song and the Hammers were presented with a golden chance to equalise. Diamanti duly obliged from twelve yards and West Ham looked set for an unlikely point.

This was not the end of the drama, however. Parker picked up a second yellow for a deliberate handball, which seemed harsh, following an inch perfect tackle on Cesc Fabregas. Moments later Arsenal were denied a winner when van Persie's goalbound header was instictively saved by Green. Cole could have won the game in the dying seconds but chose to bring the ball back inside before getting tackled, instead of shooting first time, after being set free by an outstanding ball from Diamanti.

The 34,447 crowd rose to celebrate the sounding of the full time whistle, as West Ham snatched an impressive point off the Gunners to aid their hopes of pulling out of the drop zone. The next task is that this result can be built on when the Hammers travel to Sunderland on Saturday.
 

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