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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 May, 2003, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Di Canio grabs West Ham lifeline
Di Canio celebrates his winner
West Ham 1-0 Chelsea

Paolo di Canio returned from his injury wilderness to grab a Premiership survival lifeline for West Ham at Upton Park.

Di Canio came on as a second-half substitute to snatch victory 19 minutes from time with his 50th goal for the club and ensure the Premiership relegation scrap goes to the final day of the season.

The brave Hammers knocked and knocked at the Chelsea door for 70 minutes but just could not find a way through before Di Canio's dramatic intervention.

The Italian pounced in the Chelsea penalty area after Trevor Sinclair had seen his shot blocked by Celestine Babayaro and his goal sent the Upton Park crowd into ecstasy.

Hammers' caretaker manager Trevor Brooking had gambled by deploying a three-man attack and recalling Paolo di Canio to the substitutes' bench.

Les Ferdinand completed a speedy recovery from a leg injury suffered at Manchester City to take his place alongside Freddie Kanoute and Jermain Defoe and the tactics looked shrewd as West Ham created chances from the start.

KEY MOMENTS
2 mins: Kanoute fluffs an early chance
25 mins: Sinclair volley brilliantly saved by Cudicini
71 mins: Sub Di Canio snatches West Ham winner
90 mins: Lampard shot saved by James

The Hammers were clearly fired up and were nearly in front after just 67 seconds, but Kanoute completely missed his kick from a low Trevor Sinclair cross and Defoe saw his follow-up shot saved by Carlo Cudicini.

Cudicini then produced a flying stop to brilliantly push Kanoute's header over the crossbar and further drew the sting out of West Ham's blistering opening spell when he parried a Sinclair volley midway through the half.

In between, Gianfranco Zola ensured it was not all one-way traffic as he sent a 20-yard shot just over the crossbar.

Former Hammer Frank Lampard, booed throughout by supporters who once cheered him, almost silenced the home crowd with a free header from a corner, only for Rufus Brevett to clear on the line.

But most of the pressure was at the other end, with Kanoute's aerial presence a constant threat to the Chelsea defence.

And when the French striker nodded into the side-netting early in the second half, half the Boleyn Ground began to prematurely celebrate, believing the ball had gone the other side of the post.

West Ham caretaker manager Trevor Brooking
Brooking could hardly watch an agonising match
But the home fans were cheering again within seconds when Di Canio stepped up from the bench to make his entrance.

The mercurial Italian striker came on in place of the tiring Ferdinand, but victory remained tantalisingly out of West Ham's reach, with Steve Lomas forcing another fine save from the defiant Cudicini.

But Di Canio finally made the breakthrough with 19 minutes left with a cool finish to a scrambled move.

The goal gave West Ham something of a dilemma as they appeared unsure whether to defend their lead or go in search of a second.

Ultimately, it was not a hard decision to make, given that West Ham cannot defend.

Defoe shot across the face of goal from a narrow angle with 10 minutes left but Lampard nearly spoiled the party when his injury-time strike was saved by David James.

Defeat leaves Chelsea needing a draw against Liverpool on the final day of the season to secure a Champions League place.

At the same time, West Ham will be at Birmingham with survival within their reach.


West Ham: James, Johnson, Repka, Dailly, Brevett, Lomas, Cole, Sinclair, Kanoute, Les Ferdinand (Di Canio 56), Defoe. Subs not used: Van Der Gouw, Hutchison, Garcia, Cisse.
Booked: Sinclair, Defoe, Repka.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Melchiot, Gallas, Desailly, Babayaro, Morris (Zenden 77), Petit, Lampard, Le Saux, Gudjohnsen (Hasselbaink 72), Zola (Cole 72). Subs not used: de Goey, Stanic.
Booked: Morris.

Attendance: 35,042.

Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Five Live's Steve Wilson
"An occasion that will live long in the memory"


West Ham's interim boss Trevor Brooking
"It would be nice to have a two-goal cushion for once"


Barclaycard Premiership
FINAL 2002/2003 TABLE
Click on a team for full coverage
  PGDPTS
1Man Utd384083
2Arsenal384378
3Newcastle381569
4Chelsea383067
5Liverpool382064
6Blackburn38960
7Everton38-159
8Southampton38-352
9Man City38-751
10Tottenham38-1150
11Middlesbrough38449
12Charlton38-1149
13Birmingham38-848
14Fulham38-948
15Leeds 38147
16Aston Villa38-545
17Bolton38-1044
18West Ham38-1742
19West Brom38-3626
20Sunderland38-4419

WEST HAM UNITED

CHELSEA

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