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Page last updated at 16:07 GMT, Saturday, 2 May 2009 17:07 UK

Stoke 0-1 West Ham

By Saj Chowdhury

Diego Tristan scores for West Ham
Tristan fired a superb free-kick over the Stoke wall and into the net

A spectacular strike from Diego Tristan gave West Ham victory at Stoke.

The former Deportivo la Coruna player struck just after the half-hour mark when he fired a 20-yard free-kick past keeper Thomas Sorensen.

Stoke had chances to equalise, with Mark Noble clearing Abdoulaye Faye's header off the line and Robert Green blocking a Ricardo Fuller effort.

The home side also had an appeal for a penalty turned down when Liam Lawrence fell to the ground in the first half.

An enjoyable match was played in a good spirit until moments before the break.

Zola applauds Hammers 'great effort'

The Hammers were ahead by that stage after dealing successfully with early pressure from the home side, but then a couple of contentious decisions fired up not only the players on the pitch but also a packed crowd at the Britannia Stadium.

The first occurred when Stoke midfielder Lawrence hit the deck inside the penalty area and claimed a foul by Radoslav Kovac but referee Peter Walton ruled that he had dived and duly showed him a yellow card.

A few minutes later West Ham forward Luis Boa Morte went in studs first on Rory Delap and the former Southampton player, aggrieved by the challenge, kicked out in response.


A brief scuffle involving players from both sides followed before the referee booked both players, although Delap may have fortunate to avoid a red card.

West Ham fans were irate and stewards were called upon to prevent keep them apart from home supporters.

Despite the unsavoury incidents, there was plenty of good football played by two sides who had fought their way out of the relegation mire they occupied earlier in the season.

Stoke created the lions share of the chances with Ryan Shawcross testing Green with a header from Delap's long throw and Fuller finding the net, only for the referee rule that he had fouled the Hammers keeper in the process.

'Unlucky' Stoke disappoint Pulis

After the break, Lawrence had a goalbound shot blocked by Junior Stanislas, Noble cleared Faye's header off the line and Green saved at the feet of Fuller.

Generally, however, the, West Ham defence, led by Matthew Upson, coped well with the danger from Stoke's set-pieces posed, in particular Delap's long throw-ins, which peppered the penalty area in the closing stages.

Stoke are not mathematically safe from relegation, although two points from their remaining three games should be enough, while the victory by Gianfranco Zola's men has given them a great chance of claiming a place in Europe next season.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis:
"We are disappointed with the result - but that is the nature of this league.

"West Ham had a really good spell in the first half and got their goal, although our goalkeeper was not really tested that much.

"We did not have the breaks today but we were not sharp enough either in and around the box."

West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola:
"Every team that has won at Stoke this season has had to work hard.

"My team has shown that they are determined to fight for European qualification.

"It was a great effort and I am very pleased. I am proud of my centre backs and the whole team is playing well. The team has been defending well like that for a long time."

Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson (Sonko 88), Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Pugh (Olofinjana 73), Lawrence, Delap, Whelan, Etherington, Fuller, Beattie (Camara 72).
Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Cresswell, Kelly, Tonge.

Booked: Shawcross, Lawrence, Delap.

West Ham: Green, Neill, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Stanislas, Noble (Lopez 87), Kovac, Boa Morte (Collison 82), Tristan, Di Michele (Sears 89).
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Spector, Payne, Hines.

Booked: Boa Morte, Neill.

Goals: Tristan 33.

Att: 27,500

Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: West Ham's Lucas Neill (7.88 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
Zola wants Europe for youngsters
02 May 09 |  West Ham
Premier League as it happened
02 May 09 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
02 May 09 |  Football

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