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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 September 2007, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Reading 0-3 West Ham
By Owen Phillips

West Ham's players celebrate Craig Bellamy's opener
Bellamy is mobbed after giving the Hammers an early lead
Craig Bellamy scored one goal and made another as West Ham secured a stylish victory at the Madejski Stadium.

Bellamy raced on to Lee Bowyer's pass to slot the opener within six minutes.

And the fiery striker then played a key role in setting up Matthew Etherington who rounded off a glorious move to blast the second after the restart.

Stephen Hunt clipped the bar for the home side and Robert Green saved Kevin Doyle's late penalty but Etherington broke away to seal a deserved win.

Alan Curbishley's side dominated and Mark Noble, Bowyer and Etherington all wasted excellent chances to have made the game safe before Doyle was denied by Green's full length stop.

The Hammers were smashed 6-0 on the corresponding fixture last season but there was never any danger of a repeat.

606: DEBATE

They started brilliantly and were ahead within six minutes thanks to a cracking finish from man-of-the-match Bellamy.

The Welshman, who notched twice in the midweek Carling Cup win over Bristol Rovers, raced on to Bowyer's throughball, outpaced Ingimarsson and slotted the ball across keeper Marcus Hahnemann and into the bottom left-hand corner.

And the early goal played right into the visitors' hands.

West Ham sat deep and regularly caught Reading on the break with Michael Duberry and Ivar Ingimarsson looking hesitant up against the pace and direct running of Bellamy and Etherington.

One such counter-attack saw Robert Green throw the ball out to Etherington who raced the length of the pitch before teeing up Noble but he blazed his first-time shot over the bar.

Royals keeper Marcus Hahnemann then had to race from his goal to prevent Bellamy latching on to another ball over the top.

And Bowyer also had a glorious chance to double the lead before the interval but he dragged his a half-volley wastefully wide from 15 yards after Reading only half-cleared a corner.

The home side did have their moments with Leroy Lita, back in the starting line-up after injury, the most likely source of a goal.

But their best opportunity saw Hunt hit the top of the bar just before the break with a measured 20-yard strike.

We looked so vulnerable on the counter-attack. The alarm bells are clanging in my brain

Steve Coppell

Depite Hunt's effort, the Hammers will have been a little upset they were not at least two ahead at the turnaround.

But they did not have to wait long and Bellamy was once again fully involved.

West Ham poured forward following a Reading corner and after knocking the ball wide to Dean Ashton, Bellamy played a delightful one-two with Etherington who crashed the ball high into the roof of the net at the near post.

Ashton, starting his first game since the 2006 FA Cup final, not surprisingly looked a little of bit off the pace.

But his touch and awareness became more obvious as the game wore on and his partnership with Bellamy showed early signs of promise and the pair almost set up Bowyer for a third.

Etherington also spurned a fine chance when sent through on goal and Curbishley must have feared the worst when Green felled the on-rushing Dave Kitson in the area with a quarter of an hour to go.

But Green redeemed himself, diving across his goal to deny Doyle and also pulling off an even better save to keep out substitute Kalifa Cisse's injury-time strike.

The Hammers then broke and fittingly rounded off the win with another breakaway goal, Etherington providing another cool finish after latching on to Carlton Cole's pass.


Reading boss Steve Coppell:
"It's the first time I've gone into a game and been fearful when we have been attacking. It was consistent and obvious but we kept getting caught.

"We need to do something about it. The alarm bells are clanging in my brain.

"The performance going forward was okay in many aspects but we were flawed in one aspect - we looked so vulnerable on the counter-attack. It must have happened about a dozen times and they scored two goals when we were attacking.

"They were very solid and deserved the win but we're bitterly disappointed."

  • West Ham manager Alan Curbishley:
    "Considering what happened to last year it was fantastic result.

    "We got a great start and Craig scored a fantastic goal. He had a fitness test today but said he was okay and his first goal was typical Craig Bellamy. I've been delighted with Craig. I've not had a minute's problem with him.

    "They put us under a lot of pressure but we defended and that gave us the base and we always looked like scoring goals on the break.

    "We broke well, were were a bit wasteful in front of goal but it was very good performance."


    Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Ingimarsson, Duberry, Shorey, Fae (Kitson 61), Harper, Gunnarsson (Cisse 69), Hunt, Lita (Convey 75), Doyle.
    Subs Not Used: Federici, Bikey.

    West Ham: Green, Neill, Ferdinand, Upson, McCartney, Bowyer (Spector 81), Noble, Mullins, Etherington, Ashton (Cole 65), Bellamy (Boa Morte 90).
    Subs Not Used: Wright, Gabbidon.

    Booked: Green.

    Goals: Bellamy 6, Etherington 49, 90.

    Att: 23,533.

    Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).

    SEE ALSO
    Premier League as it happened
    01 Sep 07 |  Premier League
    Saturday's football photos
    01 Sep 07 |  Football


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