Hammers snatch late win
Nolbert Solano scored a controversial late winner to hand West Ham a 1-0 victory and leave Fulham four points adrift of safety.
By Ben Collins
Last Updated: 23/02/08 9:49pm
Nolbert Solano scored a controversial late winner to hand West Ham a 1-0 victory at Fulham and leave their London rivals four points adrift of safety.
The Peruvian midfielder came on early in the second half and broke the deadlock with just three minutes remaining after bundling the ball past Antti Niemi.
Solano put in a firm challenge on the Fulham goalkeeper and the ball crept in off Solano's arm but the goal stood despite the home side's protests, which saw Leon Andreasen sent off for the Cottagers.
Although West Ham created the better opportunities, Fulham had chances of their own to snatch the points late on, with Robert Green denying Jimmy Bullard moments before Solano's winner.
It is the 15th anniversary this weekend of Bobby Moore passing away and supporters stood for a minute's applause as a tribute ahead of the clash.
Fabio Capello was in the crowd but there was very little for the England boss to get excited about in a dreary first half where there was little in the way of flowing football.
Ray Clemence was next to Capello, yet England hopeful Robert Green was barely threatened in goal for West Ham until after the break.
He did have to deal with an early shot across his goal from former Hammers defender Paul Konchesky on the edge of the area - but after that the visitors had the better of a poor opening 45 minutes.
It was Carlton Cole, the lone striker for West Ham, that looked most threatening early on as he met Mark Noble's cross with a first-time volley in the opening exchanges but Niemi saved the effort.
The former Chelsea striker also skimmed the crossbar with a volley from the edge of the area after latching onto a flick by Julien Faubert.
Danny Murphy had been snapping away in midfield and eventually earned a yellow card from Howard Webb when he caught Fredrik Ljungberg late and from behind.
Brede Hangeland also earned a caution for his high tackle on Luis Boa Morte - but only after advantage was played and Cole raced through, with Konchesky back to clear.
The Hammers should have taken the lead when Boa Morte was given a free header yards from goal in the 27th minute. He was granted enough time to control the ball but looped his effort onto the crossbar instead.
Andreasen also earned a booking from Webb as Fulham struggled to impose themselves on the game. Brian McBride did fire a volley straight at Green, but clear-cut chances for the hosts were proving difficult to create.
There was a slight improvement from the hosts at the start of the second half and they had a couple of penalty shouts turned down for handball.
The first came when Diomansy Kamara took advantage of a dummy from Jimmy Bullard and cannoned his shot off Anton Ferdinand, the second was a more hopeful shout when Bullard's effort struck Ljungberg. From the corner, Hangeland lobbed a header onto the roof of the net.
West Ham looked to have weathered the hosts' lively start to the second period and Noble side-footed wide from the edge of the area after exchanging passes with Faubert, who was then taken off for Solano.
Aaron Hughes also had to be alert to block Cole when he was found by Noble and headed towards goal, while Clint Dempsey struck straight at Green at the other end when sent through.
Green dropped a free-kick with 20 minutes remaining but he and Lucas Neill were down sharply to block McBride's rebound before Cole had a free header for the visitors but put it straight at Niemi.
Niemi was almost embarrassed before the end when Hughes surprised him with a back pass - but the controversial winner came in the 87th minute and Andreasen was dismissed following his complaints.
|Fulham||Team Statistics||West Ham United|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||5|
|7||Shots off Target||6|