West Ham dropped back into the Premier League relegation zone after goals from Louis Saha and Dan Gosling secured a 2-1 victory for Everton at Upton Park on Sunday.
Toffees defender Tony Hibbert helped a Junior Stanislas effort into his own net immediately after Gosling had put Everton two up in the 64th minute but the Hammers were unable to find an equaliser despite late pressure.
It was Everton’s first win in four league games and brought an abrupt end to West Ham’s hopes of extending their recent run of three league games without defeat.
Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola has maintained throughout his side’s dismal campaign that their performances were not getting the rewards they deserved.
Back-to-back draws against Arsenal and Sunderland suggested that the Hammers may be about to pull themselves out of their slump before the midweek victory over Aston Villa hauled Zola’s men out of the bottom three.
That win came courtesy of a last minute goal from Zavon Hines and had contributed to a more upbeat mood at Upton Park going into this clash.
The visitors, defeated by Benfica in the Europa League on Thursday, were almost undone after just eight minutes when Hammers right-back Julien Faubert broke forward on the right and sent in a low cross that just evaded Guillermo Franco.
But Franco was never able to replicate injured England striker Carlton Cole?s physical threat and struggled to make an impression on the Everton back-four after that early opportunity.
As ever, Scott Parker attempted to drive West Ham forward from midfield and worked an opening for himself in the 20th minute when he angled a shot that Everton keeper Tim Howard did well to hold.
Everton were defending in depth and numbers and, after that early flurry, West Ham soon ran out of ideas and David Moyes’ men took the lead in the 27th minute.
England centre-back Matthew Upson didn?t get enough distance on his clearing header, but he certainly might have expected one of his team-mates to react more quickly and pick up the second ball.
Instead it was Saha who quickly gained possession and the former Manchester United striker exchanged passes with Australia’s Tim Cahill on the edge of the home penalty area before drilling a low, left foot shot inside West Ham’s right hand post.
The introduction of Stanislas at the start of the second half and Alessandro Diamanti shortly after livened up the home side, who then displayed more purpose going forward.
Their problems lie at the back, though, and the Hammers defence was again found wanting when Everton substitute Ayegbeni Yakubu muscled his way forward in the 64th minute, drawing in three defenders and creating an opening for Gosling who saw his first shot saved by Green but slotted home the rebound for the visitors’ second goal.
West Ham responded immediately with Diamanti finding Stanislas and the forward lifted the ball over Tim Howard and retreating defender Hibbert could only direct his attempted clearance into the roof of the net.
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