Thursday, 1st April 2010
Having gone behind twice the Irons fought back on both occasions to snatch a creditable point - a point which could have theoretically been three had Mido not missed a first half penalty in a thrilling game on Merseyside.
Not many gave United much chance in this one; going into the game on a wretched run of six successive defeats Zola's side faced an Everton side searching for their eighth straight win in front of their own fans.
Despite starting brightly West Ham - who were without Valon Behrami after the Swiss pulled up during the pre-match warm up session - fell behind 24 minutes into the game when Billyaletdinov was criminally gifted a free header six yards from goal.
Jon Spector, possibly the best player against Stoke last week but well out of sorts today failed to clear his lines before Manuel Da Costa allowed his opponent to nod an unchallenged header to the Russian.
West Ham fought back and were (correctly) awarded a penalty eight minutes ahead of the break when Carlton Cole was tripped by Sylvain Distin as he raced through on goal. Despite being the last man Distin was inexplicably shown a yellow card instead of the red which Premier League rules insist should follow such a decision.
Even better for Everton was Tim Howard's subsequent save from Mido's weak spot kick which preserved their slender lead; the Egyptian remains without a goal since moving to East London. The home side went into the break with both their lead and full quota of players, West Ham with heads down despite a decent effort.
Recent performances suggested that the Irons may well roll over and die but instead they came back and produced 45 minutes of football as good as anything that has preceeded it this calendar year.
Mark Noble was inches away from levelling the scores on 59 minutes when his clever lob cannoned back off the crossbar - but the Hammers didn't have to wait long before getting the equaliser their dominance had deserved.
A strightforward corner led to a melee inside the six yard box that ended with a tumbling Da Costa atoning for his earlier error by forcing the ball over the line, much to the delight of the travelling fans who were once again in magnificent voice.
Carlton Cole threatened to put United ahead when sent in behind the defence by a delicious through ball by Junior Stanislas but failed to find the target before Everton were (probably incorrectly) denied a penalty of their own when Da Costa caught Louis Saha chest high with a flying boot just inside the perimeter of the 18-yard box.
That lucky escape should have been enough warning for Da Costa but he was to be involved again in Everton's second goal when culpable of allowing substitute Yakubu too much space in which to pick his spot with a header, which came just five minutes from time. Spector likewise guilty again for it was his unforced error that gifted advantage to Everton in a dangerous position.
So 2-1 behind and it looked as if all West Ham's effort had, once again, been for nothing. That was until substitute Ilan, on for the disappointing and overweight Mido converted a superb cross from Julien Faubert with a diving header of some considerable quality to stun the home side and earn a point for Zola - the very least they deserved for a performance that belied recent form.
All in all it was a very satisfactory weekend for the Irons who took an unexpected point home whilst both Burnley and Hull were beaten yesterday. The point also brings West Ham within striking distance of Wigan, who have 31 points to West Ham's 28 having been beaten at Fulham.
Following games against Sunderland (h) and Liverpool (a), Wigan arrive at the Boleyn on 24 April for what could well prove to be a season-defining match for both sides.
Burnley: Hull (a); Sunderland (a); Liverpool (h); Birmingham (a); Tottenham (h).
Hull City: Burnley (h); Birmingham (a); Aston Villa (h); Sunderland (h); Wigan (a); Liverpool (h).
West Ham Utd: Sunderland (h); Liverpool (a); Wigan (h); Fulham (a); Man City (h).
Wigan Ath: Portsmouth (h); Arsenal (h); West Ham Utd (a); Hull (h); Chelsea (a).
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Little chance with either goal and rarely tested otherwise.
Guilty of perhaps affording his man too much space on occasions. On the positive side, the cross for Ilan's goal was truly world class.
Very good against Stoke but appalling today. Involved in both goals conceded.
Playing with a little more fire his belly - but should have been tighter to his man for both goals.
Manuel Da Costa
Fair enough, he scored - but that doesn't atone for gifting the opposition one goal (possibly two) and almost conceding what was a stonewall penalty.
Different week, same report. Strong, committed and determined as always. His yellow card results in a two week suspension - at a critical time.
One of his best efforts for a while and so unlucky not to score with a deft chip. Needs to keep his form due to Parker's ensuing suspension.
Put his foot in where it hurts, good to see the big Czech getting stuck in. Some excellent work in the middle of the park that frustrated the home side.
Some lovely touches but still not quite there yet. The ball through to Cole in the second half was exquisite.
Still without a goal, still with many question marks hanging over his head. Rightfully hauled off.
Worked hard today and battled away well. Had a coupled of chances that he failed to take.
(Replaced Mido, 77 mins) Scored what will be a close call for Goal of the Season when latching onto a fine delivery from Faubert with a diving header. Pushing his claims for a starting berth.
(Replaced Stanislas, 90+4 mins) Barely warmed up but his introduction wasted a few valuable seconds deep into injury time.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Howard Webb.
Man of the Match: Scott Parker.
West Ham United
Robert Green, Julien Faubert, Jonathan Spector, Matthew Upson, Manuel Da Costa, Scott Parker, Mark Noble, Radoslav Kovac, Junior Stanislas, Mido, Carlton Cole.
Goals: Manuel Da Costa 60 Ilan 87 .
Booked: Mido 43 Scott Parker 56 .
Sent Off: None sent off .
Howard, Neville, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Osman, Heitinga, Pienaar, Bilyaletdinov, Cahill, Saha.
Substitutes: Yakubu (Bilyaletdinov 65), Rodwell (Osman 83).
Subs not used: Turner, Hibbert, Senderos, Duffy, Wallace.
Goals: Bilyaletdinov (24), Yakubu (85).
Booked: Whelan (59), Delap (90).
Sent Off: None.