West Ham Utd 3 Bolton 1

  • by Matthew O'Greel
  • Saturday, 5th May 2007

West Ham United are finally out of the bottom three after beating Bolton convincingly at The Boleyn Ground this afternoon.

A brace from Carlos Tevez - in sensational form once again - and another from Mark Noble saw the Hammers to a 3-1 victory and most importantly, above Wigan (beaten 1-0 at home today by Middlesbrough) and out of the drop zone with just one game left to play.

The win means the Hammers have now won six of their last eight games - meaning that a draw at Old Trafford next week should be enough to retain Premiership status.

That Alan Curbishley's side have got themselves into this position is something of a minor miracle in itself, given the team's position in mid-March.

Stranded at the bottom of the table with just 20 points the Hammers were cast-iron certainties for relegation until a miraculous run of form gave them a glimmer of hope - hope that was finally realised today as they left the drop-zone with just one game left to play; perfect timing, some might say.

But today's game was all about the first 45 minutes and how the Hammers simply destroyed a Bolton side bereft of their talisman Allardyce but bouyant after a 2-2 draw at Chelsea last week.

As has been the case for most games since the beginning of April today's encounter was another 'must-win' if relegation was to be avoided. Apparently unnerved, the Hammers set about this one with the same fervour and effort that had seen them win five of their previous seven fixtures.

United made much the better start, and the deserved breakthrough came on 10 minutes when Carlos Tevez - who else - replicated his free-kick against Tottenham when he converted from 20 yards into the roof of Jussi Jaskeleinan's net having initially won the free-kick in dangerous territory.

The diminutive Argentinian then doubled his tally for the day on 21 minutes when Luis Boa Morte - who was picked out wide on the flank by a lovely pass from Mark Noble - crossed superbly for the oncoming Tevez to finish low into the left-hand corner.

However the icing on the cake came in the 29th minute with the best goal of them all. Bobby Zamora stole the ball from the foot of a dithering Ivan Campo 30 yards from the Bolton goal before finding Tevez wide on the left.

Tevez, looking for the pass at all times, saw Noble arriving at the far post and picked out his young team-mate with a delightful lob which Noble - 21 next week - volleyed forcefully into the back of the Bolton net.

United could have increased their lead even further ahead of the break as both Tevez and Zamora went close. Such was West Ham's domination it wouldn't have been undeserved.

The second half was - predictably perhaps - a different story as the Hammers sought to preserve their lead, rather than extend it.

Chances were few and far between but the only one that counted came on 66 minutes when Gary Speed took advantage of a lack of concentration by Noble.

The 20-year-old lost the ball in an advanced position and Speed received the resulting ball before firing low into Rob Green's bottom left-hand corner.

For a few moments memories of Spurs and Fulham will no doubt have entered the minds of the more nervous supporter, but thankfully those perceived injustices weren't to be repeated today as United held on with some ease to record yet another win.

Elsewhere there was mixed news; Wigan's aforementioned defeat leaves them needing a win at Sheffield United on the final day of the season to stand a chance of avoiding the drop, whilst Fulham took a giant step towards safety by beating Liverpool's reserve side at Craven Cottage today.

Given this week's issues with regards to West Ham United's infringement of Premier League regulations, Rafa Benitez's decision to rest almost his entire first XI should have Fulham's relegation rivals up in arms.

Hopefully West Ham United's win today will mean they will be unaffected - although in what has been the most bizarre season in living memory it would perhaps be foolish to think that all the twists and turns have already been been played out.

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