Filed: Sunday, 21st October 2007
By: Matthew O'Greel
A huge slice of luck helped the Hammers to a first league win since mid-September against a plucky Sunderland side at the Boleyn Ground this afternoon.
Craig Gordon's own goal - one of the flukiest ever witnessed at this famous old ground - was enough to turn the game in United's favour when it appeared to be heading for a draw.
Debutant Nobby Solano - on as a second half replacement for Mark Noble - popped up at the far post in the 78th minute only to see his shot cannon off the post.
However the unfortunate - and at that point, prone Gordon - saw the rebound bounce off of his ankle and trickle back over the line to give the Hammers a lead that, at that point, they had hardly deserved.
Although Alan Curbishley's charges had led at the break thanks to Carlton Cole's ninth minute strike it was the visitors who had enjoyed near total domination between half-time and West Ham's second goal.
Having got the equaliser through Kenwyn Jones on 52 minutes they were unlucky not to be ahead before Gordon's 'most embarrasing moment', with the Hammers having been saved first by the woodwork and then by the outstretched boot of Mark Noble who prevented a second Sunderland score with a goal-line clearance.
But West Ham were always dangerous on the break and it was from one such foray into enemy territory that the second goal arrived - and subsequently the third, expertly finished by Craig Bellamy in the second minute of injury time.
Carlton Cole had given the Hammers an early lead with his first goal of the season. The big striker - only playing due to the absence of the injured Dean Ashton - headed home a George McCartney cross to give the Hammers the lead.
Rob Green - who may be forgiven for expressing a wry smile at England's result against Russia in midweek - had very little to do in a fairly quiet first half, but still remained alert to make a now trademark world-class save to deny Leadbitter on 57 minutes with a flying save that diverted a top-corner-bound effort onto the post.
At that time - and until the 78th minute - it seemed as if there would be only one winner, and with the home crowd growing restless Curbishley made a double substitution that would prove to win the game.
Both Solano and Boa Morte (on for Noble and Etherington respectively) played major parts in the two goals that followed, even if Solano was perhaps the more fortunate of the two given the timely intervention of Craig Gordon's right boot.
The win takes the Hammers back into the top half of the table, six points clear of Tottenham in 18th place and five behind Portsmouth in fifth.
West Ham United: Green, Neill, McCartney, Gabbidon, Upson, Mullins, Noble (Solano 74), Bowyer, Etherington (Boa Morte 74), Cole (Ferdinand 85), Bellamy.
Subs not used: Wright, Camara.
Booked: Cole (12), Bellamy (80), Bowyer (81).
Goals: Cole (9), Gordon (og 78), Bellamy (92).
Sunderland: Gordon, Halford, Higginbotham, Nosworthy, Collins (Harte 80), O'Donovan (Stokes 46), Leadbitter, Miller, Etuhu, Wallace (Chopra 46), Jones.
Subs not used: Ward, Connolly.
Booked: Leadbitter (17), Halford (56).
Goals: Jones (52).
Referee: Chris Foy.
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09:01AM 22nd Oct 2007
''The only good thing about this was the 3 points. it looked like we were out for a Sunday afternoon stroll. Only 2 fouls committed in the first half? Where was the passion/commitment/will to win? Must do better...''
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