Hammers win to ease pressure on Zola
By Tom Dowsett
Thursday 11 Feb 2010 11:11:00
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West Ham United moved out of the bottom three and up as far as 14th place in the Barclays Premier League after a comfortable 2-0 win over Birmingham City at Upton Park on Wednesday night.

Gianfranco Zola made four changes from the side that lost at Burnley four days earlier, replacing Mark Noble with Radoslav Kovac, Mido came in for the injured Benni McCarthy, Alessandro Diamanti started in place of Jack Collison and Herita Ilunga was picked ahead of Jonathan Spector.

Knowing that this was a must win match the Hammers started brightly with some early chances from Mido and then Carlton Cole, who was judged to be offside.

Diamanti was a constant threat throughout while on the other flank, Julien Faubert had plenty of space to get forward. Mido, on his home debut, twice connected with his head but failed to test keeper Joe Hart on either occasion.

On 25 minutes, Birmingham finally found their feet when right back Stephen Carr surged in to the box and delivered a low ball across Robert Green's goal.

The ball was then frantically hacked away and the Hammers were on the attack again. The move finished when Cole knocked the ball down for Diamanti, whose instinctive shot was just about turned away by Hart.

Both teams were finishing the half strongly with chances at either end, but it was the Hammers who broke the deadlock on the stroke of half time when Scott Parker's persistence won a free Kick after he was brought down by Scott Dann. Diamanti stepped up and lashed the ball into the top right hand corner of the net. In the resulting celebrations, Zola was swamped by at least five players in a show of unity towards their manager.

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At half time Zola replaced Ilunga with Spector and the Second half started in similar fashion to the first with both teams having chances. The best of which Green had to save from Craig Gardner, when he punched away his free-kick on 55 minutes.

Zola replaced the tiring Mido with Ilan on the hour, knowing that a second goal was needed. Within seconds of the change, Julien Faubert provided a tempting cross which Cole greatfully stooped to head home.

The Goal lifted the crowd and a chorus of 'Bubbles' and 'Come on you Irons' echoed around the ground.

Birmingham did not give up however, as Matthew Upson was forced to clear dangerous balls in to the box three times in the space of about twenty seconds!

Mark Noble then replaced Scott parker in the dying stages of the game, and Carlton Cole was named man of the match to a rapturous round of applause.

Another loud cheer followed minutes later when the referee blew for full time.

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