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  • Westham 3-1 Wigan: Obinna, Parker great-finish

    Scott Parker capped a fine display for West Ham with a goal as the Hammers beat Wigan 3-1 in an early relegation six-pointer.
    Valon Behrami took full advantage of poor defending by Steve Gohouri to stab home on 34 minutes and Victor Obinna gave the hosts breathing space when he fired past Ali Al-Habsi after the break.

    Latics’ sub Mauro Boselli squandered a great chance to pull the visitors back into it when he missed a penalty and Parker sealed the points with a move he started and finished with 15 minutes remaining.

    Tom Cleverley eventually beat the West Ham rearguard with a superb shot into the corner on 86 minutes, but the Londoners were good value for their second win of the campaign.

    With only one victory all season and five points off safety, under pressure West Ham boss, Avram Grant, was given the vote of confidence by vice-chairman Karren Brady in midweek.

    But despite her insistence that Grant was likely to be in charge at the end of the season, the Hammers’ board labelled the clash as a season-saving match.

    The Londoner’s cause was hampered by the loss of the injured Mark Noble, but the influential Parker recovered from a chest infection as Grant made five changes to the side that lost at Liverpool.

    Roberto Martinez’s struggling Wigan also saw Upton Park as the ideal opportunity to drag themselves out of the Premier League mire, but were without the suspended talisman Hugo Rodallega and Antolin Alcaraz following their red cards at Old Trafford. Jordi Gomez and Franco Di Santo came in.

    The early exchanges showed both teams were nervous as passes went astray and Cleverley showed just how much with a free-kick that sailed deep into the West Ham crowd.

    It took 11 minutes before the first real strike on goal as Green got everything behind Mohamed Diame’s shot, while at the other end the Latics survived a penalty appeal as the ball struck the unknowing Ronnie Stam’s arm.

    Stam put the incident right behind him seconds later as his whipped cross just eluded the onrushing Gomez and Di Santo.

    But it was West Ham who got the vital goal with ten minutes remaining in the first half.

    Frederic Piquionne’s skilful headed knock-down into the box caught Gohouri dithering and Behrami took full advantage to poke the ball past Al-Habsi for his second goal of the season.

    Al-Habsi was called into action again immediately and did well to beat away Junior Stanislas’ drive, but surpassed that seconds later with an incredible point-blank save from Piquionne’s header to keep the score 1-0 at the break.

    The Frenchman should have doubled the hosts’ advantage minutes after the restart.

    Matthew Upson lofted the ball into the box and as the flag stayed down, Piquionne inexplicably side-footed wide from ten yards out.

    Barrera then wasted a half chance before Obinna shot wide, but the Ivorian only had to wait another minute before netting his first Premier League goal.

    Piquionne laid the ball off just inside the box and Obinna lashed the ball past the helpless Al-Habsi.

    Martinez threw on Victor Moses and Boselli for Di Santo and Gomez and Boselli had an instant chance to reduce the arrears when Cleverley went down under Gabbidon’s clumsy challenge in the box, but Green dived low to his left to stop a poor penalty by the Argentine.

    Moses suggested he may have done better with a shot that Green held onto, but the points were made safe for the hosts on 75 minutes.

    Parker picked up the ball in midfield and as he released Obinna on the left, the England man continued his run to slide home the Ivorian’s resulting cross.

    There was still time for one final twist as N’Zogbia jinked into the box and as the ball fell to Cleverley, he curled a superb shot beyond Green into the corner.

    Gohouri had a goal chalked off for offside five minutes into stoppage time, but the game was already lost.

    Despite the win, Wolves’ victory over Sunderland keeps the Hammers rooted to the foot of the table, but on this display, Brady’s faith in Grant may prove to be an inspired decision.
    Ian Hare / Eurosport

    Team Line-up:

    West Ham: Green, Jacobsen, Tomkins, Upson, Gabbidon, Barrera, Parker, Behrami, Stanislas, Obinna, Piquionne. Subs: Boffin, Reid, Kovac, Boa Morte, Cole, McCarthy, Hines.
    Wigan: Al Habsi; Stam, S. Caldwell, Gohouri, Figueroa; Thomas, Diame; N'Zogbia, Gomez, Cleverley; Di Santo. Subs: Pollitt, Watson, Mustoe, McArthur, Moses, McManaman, Boselli.


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