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Page last updated at 16:02 GMT, Sunday, 28 December 2008

West Ham 2-1 Stoke

By Julian Shea

Danny Higginbotham and Carlton Cole
Carlton Cole (right) scored for the second game running

West Ham snatched a late win over a Stoke side that was reduced to 10 men after striker Ricardo Fuller was sent off for fighting with a team-mate.

Abdoulaye Faye's free header which put Stoke ahead was the highlight of a scrappy first half.

Carlton Cole turned Andy Griffin to level for West Ham and some fiery Stoke recriminations saw Fuller dismissed.

Stoke looked to be heading for a draw until Cole's shot was deflected off Diego Tristan into the net late on.

The first half was a disjointed affair, characterised by Stoke defending in numbers, West Ham piling forward to little clear purpose and over-officious refereeing.

Henners-WHU (If we lose I'm gonna sue the other team)

Stoke's hopes of a first away win of the season received an early boost when they went ahead from the first corner of the match with Faye left totally unmarked at the far post to head in Danny Pugh's corner from the right-hand side.

Most of West Ham's threats were inspired by Julien Faubert on the right, with Cole usually his intended target.

But for all the problems Cole's physical presence caused the Stoke defence, he rarely managed to create any serious chances.

We got the win we deserved - Zola

Having taken an early lead, Stoke seemed happy to soak up the West Ham punches and they were lucky to get away with it when Herita Ilunga found a way through on the left wing and laid the ball back into a crowded box, somehow missing all his team-mates.

Stoke's main attacking threats came from Pugh, Fuller's counter-attacks and inevitably Rory Delap's long throws, but neither keeper was overly tested in the first half.

Just after the restart, the game was turned on its head in memorable fashion.

Cole finally found a way through the defence, controlling Scott Parker's long pass and turning an unfit-looking Griffin to curl in an equaliser.

Pulis vows to deal with 'clip round the ear'

And before Stoke could even restart, they were reduced to 10 men as Fuller was shown a straight red card for slapping his captain Griffin in the face.

West Ham made the most of their one-man advantage as they piled on the pressure, and only a superbly timed goal-line clearance by Danny Higginbotham prevented Luis Boa Morte putting the home side ahead with a mishit shot.

Delap's long-range shot tested Robert Green but it was a rare second half attack for the visitors.

Their stout defensive display looked to have earned them a draw until Cole's shot took a touch off substitute Tristan and was deflected past the helpless Thomas Sorensen for the winner.

West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola:

"We played very well and deserved to win. But it's difficult because they got an early goal and they're a team who are very difficult to break.

"We created six or seven chances in the first half and I told them if they carry on like this, they will win - and they did.

"I was very confident, I had good feeling - they looked comfortable on the pitch and I knew it was a matter of time.

"I think we were in control of the game when it was 11 v 11 so in my opinion it didn't change very much."

Stoke boss Tony Pulis:

"Andy Griffin had hurt his knee, I played him because Andy Wilkinson suspended but he was happy to play. Before half-time he felt his calf but he wanted to give it five minutes to see how it was.

"We're desperately disappointed to lose as we were against Manchester United, what's important is how we pick ourselves up.

"We've got a good group of players who care about things and Ricardo Fuller cared too much - we'll deal with it in house, not through the media."

West Ham: Green, Faubert, Collins, Upson, Ilunga, Behrami, Parker (Mullins 77), Collison (Tristan 77), Boa Morte, Di Michele (Spector 89), Cole.
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Bowyer, Sears, Ngala.

Booked: Cole, Boa Morte, Di Michele.

Goals: Cole 51, Tristan 88.

Stoke: Sorensen, Griffin (Davies 58), Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Higginbotham, Delap, Olofinjana, Whelan, Pugh (Pericard 53), Cresswell, Fuller.
Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Lawrence, Soares, Tonge, Sonko.

Sent Off: Fuller (54).

Booked: Olofinjana, Higginbotham, Abdoulaye Faye.

Goals: Abdoulaye Faye 4.

Att: 34,477

Ref: M Jones (Mansfield).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Stoke's Abdoulaye Faye 7.29 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Premier League as it happened
28 Dec 08 |  Premier League
Sunday's football photos
28 Dec 08 |  Football
Lawro's predictions
27 Dec 08 |  Football

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