Di Canio gives Hammers victory
By Graeme Bailey
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The Italian maestro was introduced as a second half substitute by caretaker manager Trevor Brooking for his first appearance since February.
Di Canio repaid Brooking's faith in him by grabbing the crucial goal just 19 minutes from time.
Jermain Defoe created the chance down the right, he crossed and the ball which deflected off Celestine Babayaro before finding its way to Di Canio and he made no mistake from six yards out.
The three points is a major boost for The Hammers, who have now climbed out of the bottom three and given themselves a great chance of survival.
The loss for Chelsea is a major blow although, they remain in fourth, after Liverpool went down to a shock 2-1 home loss to Manchester City.
Milan Baros had put Liverpool ahead at Anfield on the hour mark with a clinical right footed volley from El Hadji Diouf's cross.
However, City showed true spirit and fought back to grab an equaliser on 74 minutes.
Ali Bernabia weaved some magic to send Nicolas Anelka through and the former Red was brought down by Djimi Traore, he brushed himself down to convert the spot kick.
Then City grabbed an amazing last minute winner when Anelka smashed home a stunning left foot volley, after a great move which involved Bernabia, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Robbie Fowler.
A mouth-watering prospect now awaits as Chelsea and Liverpool meet next week in the final game of the season, with the last remaining Champions League place at stake.
There is only one place at stake, because Newcastle sealed their place in Europe's elite tournament with a 1-0 home success over Birmingham City.
The Blues did very well for large portions of the game, but the whole match turned on one incident.
David Elleray- refereeing his last ever Premiership game - adjudged that Matthew Upson tripped Craig Bellamy when clean through on goal, and he red carded the former Arsenal man.
To make things even worse for Birmingham, Portuguese star Hugo Viana curled home the resulting free kick - which was enough to give Newcastle all three points.
Everton are still not certain of sixth place, after they went down 2-0 at Fulham - but they almost handed The Cottagers victory with two own goals.
The first came after 33 minutes when Alan Stubbs deflected the ball past Richard Wright and then just before half time the crucial second came.
Steed Malbranque crossed in from the right, but instead of taking the ball Wright let it slip through and could not prevent it from crossing the line.
Blackburn failed to take advantage of Everton's slip-up, after they were held to a 1-1 draw by relegated West Bromwich Albion at Ewood Park.
Damien Duff looked to have set Rovers on the path to victory when he turned Ronnie Wallwork and rifled the ball past Russell Hoult.
However, Albion had other ideas and their Player of the Year Jason Koumas showed his Premiership credentials with a great individual effort.
He beat a host of challenges before unleashing an effort which looped of Lucas Neill and past the despairing Brad Friedel.
Middlesbrough produced the result of the day with a 5-1 victory over a poor Tottenham at The Riverside. A first half blitz won the game for Boro as they grabbed three goals in five minutes.
Malcolm Christie tapped home from close range (22) after Szilard Nemeth's effort was well saved.
The Slovakian then won a penalty just a minute later after being tripped by Chris Perry, the Spurs stopper was sent off and then Juninho saw his spot kick saved by Kasey Keller - but unfortunately for Spurs the Brazilian was on hand to pounce from close range.
Nemeth, who created the opening two efforts, then got on the scoresheet himself when he smashed home after a Jonathan Greening corner.
Steve McClaren then introduced Massimo Maccarone at half time and the Italian pounced (54) when he was again sent through by Nemeth.
Arguably the goal of the game then came on the hour mark when Jamie Redknapp - another second half replacement - curled home a wonderful free kick from 30 yards.
The scoring was wrapped up by Maccarone who latched on to a Juninho through ball to seal the victory with another clinical finish.
The final game of the day saw Aston Villa secure their Premiership status with a hard fought 1-0 win over Sunderland at Villa Park.
The only goal came with just ten minutes remaining when Swedish star Marcus Allback continued his great run of late and pounced to give his side victory.
Click below for match summaries:
Aston Villa 1-0 Sunderland
Blackburn Rovers 1-1 West Bromwich Albion
Fulham 2-0 Everton
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester City
Middlesbrough 5-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Newcastle United 1-0 Birmingham City
West Ham United 1-0 Chelsea
Click here for Premiership table