FA Cup
West Ham United 5-1 Burnley 

Monday, 21st February 2011
by Staff Writer

Can we play you every week... West Ham are through to the FA Cup quarter finals after recording their first five-goal haul since beating tonight's opponents at the Boleyn back in 2009.

That 5-3 win went some way to restoring confidence in a side bereft of it at a delicate stage of a troubled campaign. Although there were no Premier League points up for grabs tonight, it will be hoped that a similar effect is felt following a thoroughly encouraging performance.

Or perhaps that should be thoroughly encouraging second half performance, for as ruthless as United were after the break they were equally toothless during the first 45 minutes; that inconsistency being the case for much of the season thus far.

West Ham's only effort on goal in the opening half was, rather fortuitously, an absolute screamer from Thomas Hitzlsperger, finally making his debut seven months after joining the club.

The German international picked up the ball 30 yards from goal before unleashing a vicious, swerving drive that completely fooled Burnley 'keeper Lee Grant to give West Ham a 23rd minute lead.

Bar that the Hammers failed to register a single effort on goal prior to the break - unlike the visitors who tested Robert Green on a number of occasions, most notably when the England 'keeper was forced to make a stunning 15th minute double-save to prevent the Clarets from taking the lead.

The match sprung into life after the break as the Hammers struck three times within 11 minutes to put the game well beyond reach - even with Burnley's mini-comeback from five behind last season still fresh in mind.

Carlton Cole, that reknowned purveyor of the finest comedy goals added another contender tonight four minutes after the break.

Having been sent clear through on goal by a precision pass from Mark Noble the striker's heavy touch initially drew a gasp of despair from the crowd as goalkeeper Grant appeared favourite to reach the ball first. That was until Cole executed a perfect sliding tackle on the bemused Grant, sending the ball into the net.

And just exactly why Cole continues to divide opinion amongst supporters was perfectly encapsulated within two minutes when latching on to another pinpoint through ball from Noble, he instinctively fired a dipping volley over the head of Grant and into the roof of the Burnley net.

It's often been said that given time to think, Cole is a lesser threat in front of goal. Although tonight failed miserably to dispel that particular theory with his tally for the season now into double figures, his importance to a struggling West Ham is without question.

The goal-fest continued a minute ahead of the hour mark when like the impressive Hitzlsperger, Winston Reid recorded his first goal for the club when nodding home a corner delivered by the German. Despite looking shaky defensively at times, the 90 minutes' experience will prove invaluable to the young New Zealander as he continues to adapt to life in the Premier League.

Demba Ba - who was perhaps most deserving of a goal for his efforts - and captain Scott Parker both went close to adding a fifth before Burnley gave their fans something to cheer about when Jay Rodriguez took advantage of some all-too-familiar hapless defending to notch a consolation goal from two yards.

Wayne Bridge, in possession of the ball on the touchline but facing Rob Green's goal bizarrely elected to pass three feet back towards Green instead of sending it out for a corner. Green's panicked clearance rebounded off an opponent before looping up perfectly for the awaiting Rodriguez, who nodded home into an empty net.

It was the only sour note of a good night for the Hammers, but typical of the kind of neglectful defending that has left Avram Grant's side in such a precarious position in the Premier League.

Undeterred, the Irons pressed on and both Ba and Parker were again denied before Winston Reid atoned for his earlier headers with a miraculous goal line clearance two minutes into injury time. Substitute Chris Iwelumo's far post header was goalbound before Reid, facing goalwards, dived to flick the Burnley striker's effort onto the bar - then the post, and finally to a grateful Green.

Less than 30 seconds later West Ham made it 5-1, when it could so easily have been 4-2 but for Reid's timely intervention moments earlier. Freddie Sears was the grateful recipient of a flowing counter attack and doubled his account for the season with a well placed effort, aiming his shot above the advancing Grant.

So all in all, a great night for the Hammers who can now look forward to a trip to Stoke in the quarter finals. Although doubts still remain over the team's ability to defend adequately, that shouldn't detract from an all-round excellent performance - and one that sets up this weekend's visit of a reinvigorated Liverpool side perfectly.

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Player Ratings

Robert Green
Comments to follow.

Lars Jacobsen
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Wayne Bridge
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James Tomkins
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Winston Reid
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Scott Parker
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Mark Noble
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Thomas Hitzlsperger
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Fred Sears
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Carlton Cole
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Demba Ba
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Pablo Barrera
(Replaced Hitzlsperger, 67 mins) Comments to follow.

Jonathan Spector
(Replaced Cole, 73 mins) Comments to follow.

Demba Ba
(Replaced Piquionne, 82 mins) Comments to follow.

Ruud Boffin
Did not play.

Manuel Da Costa
Did not play.

Luis Boa Morte
Did not play.

Zavon Hines
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Robert Green, Lars Jacobsen, Wayne Bridge, James Tomkins, Winston Reid, Scott Parker, Mark Noble, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Fred Sears, Carlton Cole, Demba Ba.

Goals: Thomas Hitzlsperger 23 Carlton Cole 48 Carlton Cole 50 Winston Reid 69 Fred Sears 90          .

Booked: None booked           .

Sent off: None.

Burnley: Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Fox, Elliott, Cork, Eagles, Marney, Wallace, Rodriguez.

Subs not used: Jensen, Edgar, Bikey, Easton.

Goals: Rodriguez (73).

Booked: Rodriguez, Elliott.

Sent off: None.

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

Attendance: 24,881.

Man of the Match: Thomas Hitzlsperger.