Five-Star Hammers Cruise To Quarter-Finals
By Tom Dowsett
Tuesday 22 Feb 2011 12:18:00
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West Ham United will head to the Britannia Stadium to face Stoke City on the weekend of the 12th March, ironically just a week after they host Tony Pulis' men in the Barclays Premier League, after booking their place in the Quarter-Finals following a 5-1 win over Burnley.

Avram Grant made three changes from the thrilling draw at the Hawthorns eight days ago. James Tomkins returned to the starting line-up after picking up a calf problem in the warm-up to the 1-0 defeat to Birmingham City. He regained his place from Manuel Da Costa, Freddie Sears came in for the cup-tied Gary O'Neil, Demba Ba made his full home debut, while Thomas Hitzlsperger made his long awaited debut for the club.

The game got underway and it was end to end from the first whistle, but once the visitors had volleyed wide of the post, West Ham started to fashion a couple of chances of their own, most notably when Sears tried to pick out Ba on the counter attack, but Burnley keeper Lee Grant gathered easily.

It didn't take long for Eddie Howe's side to start applying pressure, but any danger was eventually cleared by Mark Noble after winning a challenge down the right flank. He then set up Carlton Cole, who cut the ball back on his left foot to set up Hitzlsperger but he mis-hit his right-footed effort and it was again easily gathered by Grant.

On 14 minutes Burnley came close to grabbing the lead when Winston Reid let the ball bounce and Jay Rodriguez latched on and took a shot but Robert Green did well to tip the ball over. However, the pressure was not over and just seconds later Green had to make a superb double save when he parried Ross Wallace's effort into the path of Rodriguez, whose goalward header was superbly saved.

The first goal arrived on 23 minutes and a stunning start on Hitzlsperger's debut was capped off with a goal and what a goal it was. The Hammers kept possession before the German unleashed a thunderous 25-yarder which Grant should have done better with.

Burnley could have levelled the tie 11 minutes later, but Chris Eagles' shot was again superbly kept out by Green.

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No sooner had the second half started and West Ham doubled their advantage, but it was another lucky effort by Cole as he mis-controlled the ball before challenging Grant. He then half-fell on the ball before stabbing it past Michael Duff from the edge of the six-yard box. 2-0 to the home side.

Two minutes later it was effectively game over as Cole did better with his finish this time when he lobbed Grant with a half-volleyed effort.

With 58 minutes gone, Reid, who scored an own goal in his last outing scored at the right end to claim his first goal for the Hammers when he met Hitzlsperger's corner with a glancing headder at the near post.

Hitzlsperger received a warm round of applause when he was taken off on 67 minutes and replaced by Pablo Barerra.

Rodriguez had a chance to pull a goal back minutes later, when he had time and space to take his shot, but his curled effort went over the top of the bar. Seconds later however, a defensive mix-up between Wayne Bridge and Green allowed him to head home to give Burnley a consolation goal.

On 73 minutes Burnley made a double change replacing Wallace and Dean Marney with Graham Alexander and Chris Iwelumo, while Cole replaced Jonathan Spector for the Hammers.

After a couple of half-chances a final West Ham change was made as Ba came off to a standing ovation from the home support, to be replaced by Frederic Piquionne.

As the game entered stoppage time, Burnley had a chance to reduce the defecit when Iwelumo out-jumped Lars Jacobsen and beat Green, but Reid unbelievably headed the ball onto the underside of the crossbar, it then hit the post before bouncing into the arms of a grateful Green.

There was just time for Sears to put the icing on the cake, when he raced on to a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area to slot an assured finish high into the net past Grant before the final whistle blew to confirm the Hammers' biggest win of the season and a place in the quarter-finals.

Next up, attention turns back to the Barclays Premier League and Liverpool's visit on Sunday.

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