A point is just mint at Everton
By Tom Dowsett
Monday 05 Apr 2010 11:53:00
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A spirited performance earned West Ham United a priceless point in their battle to avoid the drop at Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon.

Goals from Manuel Da Costa and Ilan rescued the Hammers after Everton felt they had won the game when Yakubu scored with just five minutes left. Da Costa had initially equalised after 55 minutes, but Ilan saved the away side with just three minutes remaining.

West Ham made two changes to the side that lost at home to Stoke City last weekend with Radoslav Kovac coming in for Kieron Dyer, and Junior Stanislas providing a late replacement for Valon Behrami, who added to the Hammers' woes by getting injured in the warm-up.

The away side started the brighter with a couple of early sighters at goal, but were unfortunate to see skipper Scott Parker booked for a challenge, where he seemed to get the ball first. That was Parker's tenth booking of the season, and as a result he will now miss the next two fixtures; at home to Sunderland and an away trip to Liverpool.

Despite the early pressure, it was the Toffee's that made the breakthrough after 24 minutes with their first shot on target. A cross from the left from Leighton Baines was not dealt with by the out of form Jonathan Spector, and Tim Cahill cushioned the ball off to the onrushing Diniyar Bilyaletdinov who glanced a header past the helpless Robert Green.

On 36 minutes West Ham were offered a lifeline as Carlton Cole powered past the Everton backline, only to be nudged over by Sylvain Distin as he entered the area. It took an age, but finally Howard Webb pointed to the spot. Mido strolled up to take the kick, however his weak penalty was tipped around the post by goalkeeper Tim Howard.

By now the afternoon looked like classic relegation form as the Hammers had conceeded a soft goal and had spurned a golden opportunity to get back on level terms.

 

 

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The second half proved much more fruitful for Gianfranco Zola's side as they came out with increased purpose. On the hour mark, their new-found belief paid dividends. In the seconds before, Mark Noble produced a wonderful turn and shot that crashed against the bar and from the resulting corner the Hammers equalised. Manuel Da Costa took advantage of a number of bobbles, as the ball pinballed around the six-yard box, and toe-poked home from close range. It was exactly what the away side had deserved, and they celebrated in front of the East London faithful.

It set up a fantasic finale in the Merseyside sunshine, and Carlton Cole came within inches of giving the Hammers the lead, but his shot was dragged just wide of the post.

Everton had reasons for complaint moments later as a blatant foul from Da Costa on Louis Saha inside the area was waved away by Webb. However, it was the home side that regained the advantage when another Baines cross was poorly defended and substitue Yakubu profited, heading the ball into the corner of the net. It was a goal that seemed harsh on West Ham as they had hustled and harried all game, and looked like coming away with nothing.

However, their never say die attitude sprung eternal with just three minutes remaining, as Julien Faubert produced a delicious cross that Ilan converted with a diving header from eight yards out. It was a quite brilliant goal that befitted the afternoon's entertainment, and gave the Hammers a well-deserved, well-needed point.

The result finally halted the six game losing streak, and gives confidence ahead of Saturday's tough home game against a resurgent Sunderland. However, with Hull City facing Burnley in the ultimate six-pointer, West Ham know that they must keep picking up points in order to survive.

 

 

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