Di Canio Inspires Hammers  (Sky Sports)

West Ham United 1 Chelsea 0

Paolo di Canio
di Canio: vital goal
West Ham  1-0  Chelsea 
di Canio 71    
Barclaycard Premiership, May 3, KO 15.00   

Paolo di Canio made a fairytale comeback for West Ham by scoring the winning goal to blow the relegation picture wide open with a 1-0 win over Chelsea.

In a dramatic afternoon at Upton Park, the maverick Italian rose from the substitutes bench to score the winner in the 71st minute.
The dramatic twist could hardly have been scripted after months of wrangling between the unsettled striker and manager Glenn Roeder.

Never one to hold back his emotions, di Canio left the field in tears after guiding the Hammers out of the bottom three - for the time being at least.

The spectre of relegation still looms large for West Ham with Bolton's imminent clash with Southampton taking on even greater significance.

Nevertheless, a win for the Hammers was no less than they deserved after an inspired display from Carlo Cudicini kept the score goalless for much of the game.

Caretaker boss Trevor Brooking signalled his intentions by throwing three up front with Les Ferdinand making a miraculous return from the tackle he suffered at Maine Road less than seven days ago.

The home side made an assured start and Kanoute spurned a great early chance when he mis-timed Trevor Sinclair's measured cross. The rebound fell to Jermaine Defoe, who also failed to trouble Cudicini.

The home side enjoyed a monopoly of possession in the opening ten minutes and Frederic Kanoute was denied an opening goal when his well directed header was superbly saved by Cudicini.

Sinclair was proving to be the Hammers best creative outlet and he delivered a fine ball once again in the 16th minute to Kanoute, who headed down to the onrushing Ferdinand, but his shot sailed over the crossbar.

Steve Lomas
Lomas: spurned golden chance

The home side were growing increasingly anxious to convert pressure into goals and they were left to rue another near miss when the inspired Cudicini denied Sinclair from the edge of the area.

The tentative defending that has undermined the Hammers season reared its ugly head in the 31st minute when Christian Dailly, in as a replacement for the suspended Ian Pearce, failed to clear a corner and was relieved to see the ball scrambled off the line.

Steve Lomas was then presented with best chance of the half after timing Rufus Brevitt's corner to perfection in the 43rd minute, but headed wide from six yards out when unmarked.

After a quiet opening to the second period, Kanoute narrowly missed out when headed inches wide with Cudicini beaten.

Cudicini was proving to be the thorn in West Ham's side and he was on hand to save Lomas's fierce header in the 67th minute.

Paolo Di Canio returned to the fray for the Hammers in the second half and was given a rousing reception in what is likely to be his last appearance at Upton Park.

He made an immediate impact when he delivered a fine ball to Kanoute, whose header was deflected wide by Marcel Desailly.

However, di Canio was not finished and made the most decisive of contributions with his vital goal in the 71st minute.

Defoe found width on the right and his deflected cross was directed home by Di Canio, sparking jubilant scenes in front of the full Bobby Moore stand.

At the death Frank Lampard nearly came back to haunt his old side with a stinging shot from outside the box. However, David James, who had a quiet afternoon, was up to the task when he tipped a fine save round the post.

West Ham: James, Johnson, Repka, Dailly, Brevett, Lomas, Cole, Sinclair, Kanoute, Les Ferdinand, Defoe.
Subs: Van Der Gouw, Hutchison, Di Canio, Garcia, Cisse.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Melchiot, Gallas, Desailly, Babayaro, Morris, Petit, Lampard, Le Saux, Gudjohnsen, Zola.
Subs: de Goey, Hasselbaink, Zenden, Stanic, Cole.

Referee: A D'Urso (Essex)

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