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Page last updated at 21:38 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

West Ham   2 - 0   Birmingham

By Harry Reekie

Alessandro Diamanti celebrates
Diamanti headed straight to manager Zola after his brilliant free-kick

West Ham moved out of the relegation zone and eased the pressure on manager Gianfranco Zola with an invaluable win against Birmingham at Upton Park.

Alessandro Diamanti gave the Hammers a deserved lead on the stroke of half-time with a superb free-kick following a foul on Scott Parker by Scott Dann.

Carlton Cole doubled the advantage after the break with a close-range header from Julien Faubert's cross.

A couple of half-chances from Cameron Jerome was the best Birmingham managed.

One victory - the Hammers' first in 2010 - hardly staves off relegation fears but will at least hand Zola a welcome tonic after reports prior to the game suggested he was one defeat away from the sack.

That claim was strenuously denied by new joint owner David Sullivan but the Italian will surely be glad not to have tested his chairman's word.

It was a massive win for West Ham - Zola

Birmingham, who were not at their impressive best, missed the chance to reach the magical 40-point milestone but the mere fact that his side are on the brink of safety at such an early stage of the season will bring a warm glow to boss Alex McLeish.

Talk of the 'Davids' had inevitably dominated the build-up to the game, with new Hammers owners Sullivan and David Gold up against their former club for the first time.

But while the fortunes of Birmingham have risen since their departure, the mood at cash-strapped Upton Park has sunk to worrying depths.

606: DEBATE
Wendol BAOFC

However, if the pressure had crept up on the home players before the match then they admirably disguised the tension.

Scott Parker was a dominant figure in midfield while Cole always looked lively up front.

Egyptian Mido should have done better with a scuffed effort after breaking free while James Tompkins saw a long-range drive scooped comfortably up by Joe Hart.

The left foot of Diamanti was also a constant threat for the hosts and Hart had to be alive midway through the half to palm over a stinging drive.

Timing of the first goal hurt us - McLeish

Birmingham always seemed a threat on the break at the other end, however, and Jerome perhaps should have done better with a shot dragged wide following a sweeping move.

The striker also just failed to connect with a teasing cross from Craig Gardner.

Cole then fired a shot past the post after wriggling free of Dann but the defender quickly made up for it with a brave block from the same player.

But Diamanti finally broke through for the hosts with the final kick of the half.

A fine run by the inspirational Parker was cut short by a crude challenge from Dann and from an ideal position, the Italian stepped up with a near-perfect free-kick into the top corner.

The home crowd went wild and it was notable that a host of West Ham players headed straight to celebrate with Zola in a clear public show of unity.

Birmingham huffed and puffed after the interval but soon found themselves two goals down and with a mountain to climb.

We're so pleased for the fans - Cole

Faubert sent in a fine cross after a rampaging overlap down the right and Cole burst past Roger Johnson to bravely head home from close range.

Thereafter the hosts seemed happy to sit back and attempt to hit Blues on the counter attack, with Birmingham failing to create any chances of note.

Barry Ferguson and Kevin Phillips blazed over but the Hammers comfortably closed out the game - much to the relief of their fans, manager and grinning new owners.


West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola:
"It was a massive game and there was a lot of pressure. After a good start we became a little bit shaky.

"But it was a brilliant piece of skill from Alessandro Diamanti and it came at exactly the right time for us.

"The first goal made a big difference. We could organise ourselves a bit better and plan for the second half.

"To be honest, it's difficult to play in these conditions. We were playing against a very good team.

"The comments (by owner David Sullivan before the game) don't really matter. What was important was to win the game and that was crucial to everyone here.

"It's massive that we're out of the bottom three. When you're in this situation it's normal to be up and down so you have to keep your composure."

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish:
"I'm very disappointed with the Diamanti goal.

"We should have seen the time out and got into the dressing room to regroup. I didn't feel we were under too much pressure in the first half.

"It's not like us to concede in that way.

"But it was an exceptional free-kick and you've got to hold your hands up.

"We just couldn't finish the moves off. We had balls flashing across the box but just couldn't score. West Ham deserved it on the night though."


Live text and stats

 

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Barclays Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
West Ham 2-0 Birmingham FT
(HT 1-0)
  • Alessandro Diamanti 45+2
  • Cole 67

    West Ham

    Substitutes

    Birmingham

    Substitutes

    Ref: DeanAtt: 34,458
    WEST HAM
    BIRMINGHAM

    Possession

    • West Ham 58%
    • Birmingham 42%

    Attempts on target

    • West Ham 10
    • Birmingham 5

    Attempts off target

    • West Ham 3
    • Birmingham 5

    Corners

    • West Ham 3
    • Birmingham 6

    Fouls

    • West Ham 12
    • Birmingham 9
    • Final Result
    • Full Time
    • 90:00+3:11 The referee ends the match.
    • 90:00+2:10 Free kick awarded for a foul by Alessandro Diamanti on Stephen Carr. Direct free kick taken by Joe Hart.
    • 90:00+0:06 Effort on goal by Craig Gardner from outside the penalty box goes harmlessly over the bar.
    • 89:13 James McFadden fouled by Valon Behrami, the ref awards a free kick. James McFadden takes the free kick.
    • 86:15 Free kick awarded for a foul by Matthew Upson on Barry Ferguson. Direct free kick taken by Barry Ferguson.
    • 85:17 Substitution Scott Parker goes off and Mark Noble comes on.
    • 84:31 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Michel by Radoslav Kovac. Michel restarts play with the free kick.
    • 84:04 The referee blows for offside. Robert Green restarts play with the free kick.
    • 83:09 Scott Dann fouled by Carlton Cole, the ref awards a free kick. Liam Ridgewell takes the free kick.
    • 82:04 Shot by Barry Ferguson from outside the box goes over the net.
    • 79:37 Kevin Phillips is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Robert Green takes the indirect free kick.
    • 78:15 The assistant referee signals for offside against Cameron Jerome. Robert Green takes the free kick.
    • 76:26 Substitution Lee Bowyer goes off and Michel comes on.
    • 72:46 Valon Behrami takes a shot. Save made by Joe Hart.
    • 71:39 Carlton Cole is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Indirect free kick taken by Joe Hart.
    • 66:36 The assist for the goal came from Julien Faubert.
    • 66:36 GOAL - Carlton ColeWest Ham 2 - 0 Birmingham Carlton Cole scores a headed goal from close range. West Ham 2-0 Birmingham.
    • 66:00 Substitution James McFadden on for Keith Fahey.
    • 65:09 Substitution . Mido goes off and Araujo Ilan comes on.
    • 64:18 . Mido takes a shot. Scott Dann gets a block in.
    • 63:23 Free kick awarded for a foul by Craig Gardner on Alessandro Diamanti. Robert Green restarts play with the free kick.
    • 61:44 Free kick crossed right-footed by Craig Gardner, James Tomkins makes a clearance.
    • 61:44 Booking Caution for Matthew Upson.
    • 61:34 Matthew Upson challenges Craig Gardner unfairly and gives away a free kick.
    • 59:39 Effort on goal by Alessandro Diamanti from deep inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.
    • 56:22 Corner taken left-footed by Alessandro Diamanti, Roger Johnson manages to make a clearance.
    • 55:15 Outswinging corner taken by Craig Gardner from the right by-line played to the near post, . Mido manages to make a clearance.
    • 53:58 Unfair challenge on Keith Fahey by Radoslav Kovac results in a free kick. Craig Gardner takes the direct free kick.
    • 53:40 Alessandro Diamanti takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
    • 50:06 Craig Gardner has an effort at goal from outside the area which goes wide left of the target.
    • 49:34 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Lee Bowyer by Radoslav Kovac. Free kick taken by Craig Gardner.
    • 47:32 The offside flag is raised against Carlton Cole. Liam Ridgewell takes the indirect free kick.
    • 45:56 Scott Parker gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Liam Ridgewell. Craig Gardner takes the free kick.
    • 45:01 The referee starts the second half.
    • 45:01 Substitution Herita Ilunga goes off and Jonathan Spector comes on.
    • Half Time
    • 45:00+2:05 It is the end of the first-half.
    • 45:00+1:09 GOAL - Alessandro DiamantiWest Ham 1 - 0 Birmingham Alessandro Diamanti hits the back of the net with a goal direct from the free kick from just outside the penalty area to the top right corner of the goal. West Ham 1-0 Birmingham.
    • 45:00+0:33 Booking Scott Dann goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.
    • 45:00+0:19 Scott Dann challenges Scott Parker unfairly and gives away a free kick.
    • 42:00 Free kick taken by Robert Green.
    • 42:00 Booking Lee Bowyer receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
    • 41:49 Free kick awarded for a foul by Lee Bowyer on Alessandro Diamanti.
    • 37:36 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Craig Gardner, Foul by Scott Dann on Robert Green, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Robert Green.
    • 37:14 Kevin Phillips takes a shot. Save by Robert Green.
    • 34:12 Herita Ilunga fouled by Craig Gardner, the ref awards a free kick. Alessandro Diamanti takes the direct free kick.
    • 33:39 Cameron Jerome takes a shot from deep inside the box clearing the bar.
    • 33:09 Carlton Cole takes a shot. Roger Johnson gets a block in.
    • 31:41 Effort on goal by Carlton Cole from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.
    • 29:50 Foul by Carlton Cole on Roger Johnson, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.
    • 28:01 Shot by Cameron Jerome from deep inside the penalty area misses wide to the left of the target.
    • 27:00 The offside flag is raised against Kevin Phillips. Robert Green takes the indirect free kick.
    • 26:38 Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Blocked by James Tomkins.
    • 25:22 Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Alessandro Diamanti, Cameron Jerome makes a clearance.
    • 25:05 Alessandro Diamanti takes a shot. Save made by Joe Hart.
    • 22:14 Barry Ferguson takes a shot. Comfortable save by Robert Green.
    • 21:43 Inswinging corner taken by Craig Gardner, save made by Robert Green.
    • 21:13 The referee gives a free kick against . Mido for handball. Roger Johnson restarts play with the free kick.
    • 19:28 Corner taken short by Craig Gardner.
    • Correction - 19:00 Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Blocked by Matthew Upson.
    • 19:00 Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Blocked by Scott Dann.
    • 18:11 . Mido takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a save.
    • 14:13 . Mido challenges Barry Ferguson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Barry Ferguson.
    • 12:25 Craig Gardner concedes a free kick for a foul on Alessandro Diamanti. Free kick taken by Alessandro Diamanti.
    • 11:22 James Tomkins takes a shot. Save made by Joe Hart.
    • 10:51 Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Alessandro Diamanti from the left by-line, Roger Johnson manages to make a clearance.
    • 9:14 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Alessandro Diamanti by Stephen Carr. Alessandro Diamanti crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance made by Roger Johnson.
    • 7:40 Scott Dann concedes a free kick for a foul on Radoslav Kovac. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Alessandro Diamanti from right channel, clearance by Craig Gardner.
    • 7:00 A cross is delivered by Julien Faubert, Header by . Mido from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.
    • 6:08 Foul by Carlton Cole on Roger Johnson, free kick awarded. Joe Hart takes the direct free kick.
    • 5:21 Craig Gardner takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
    • 4:06 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Craig Gardner, Matthew Upson makes a clearance.
    • 3:30 Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Craig Gardner.
    • 2:25 Carlton Cole is ruled offside. Joe Hart takes the free kick.
    • 1:38 . Mido takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a save.
    • 0:52 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Scott Parker by Craig Gardner. Alessandro Diamanti restarts play with the free kick.
    • 0:00 The game kicks-off.

    Live text and data provided by The Press Association.



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    Premier League table snapshot

    As it stood on 10 Feb 2010 23:59 UK

    Position Team P GD PTS
    1 Chelsea 26 39 58
    2 Man Utd 26 41 57
    3 Arsenal 26 31 52
    4 Liverpool 26 16 44
    5 Man City 24 15 44
    6 Tottenham 26 19 43
    7 Aston Villa 25 13 42
    8 Birmingham 25 -2 37
    9 Everton 25 -1 35
    10 Fulham 26 2 34
    11 Blackburn 26 -17 31
    12 Stoke 24 -4 30
    13 Sunderland 25 -10 26
    14 West Ham 25 -8 24
    15 Wolves 25 -21 24
    16 Wigan 24 -23 24
    17 Hull 26 -26 24
    18 Burnley 25 -25 23
    19 Bolton 24 -17 22
    20 Portsmouth 25 -22 16

    see also
    Zola plays down goal celebration
    11 Feb 10 |  West Ham
    Premier League as it happened
    10 Feb 10 |  Football
    Wednesday's football photos
    10 Feb 10 |  Football



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