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Hammers shrug off midweek blues to beat Fulham

SoccerNews in English Premier League 27 Sep 2008

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West Ham put aside the midweek blues of facing a possible 30million pounds payment to Sheffield United and being bundled out of the League Cup with a 2-1 win away at London rivals Fulham here on Saturday.

A nightmare final few minutes of the first-half sounded Fulham’s death knell as the Hammers scored twice and Fulham had Andy Johnson sent-off. A second-half penalty was not enough to save the hosts from their first home defeat of the season.

West Ham, who have not been beaten at Craven Cottage in the Premiership in six years, struck twice in the last couple of minutes of the first-half.

First Carlton Cole tapped in from Matty Etherington’s pullback and then the former Chelsea striker returned the favour by laying the ball off to Mark Noble whose superb 30 yard ball was seized on by Etherington and he slotted it past Mark Schwarzer.

Fulham’s nightmare end to the half reached its nadir as England international striker Johnson was sent-off for a second yellow card in time added on as he went in two-footed on Australian defender Lucas Neill.

The Hammers went close on several occasions to taking it completely out of Fulham’s reach in the second-half through Noble with a long range effort and Frenchman Julien Faubert also went close with a curling shot.

However, it was the ‘Cottagers’ – also knocked out of the League Cup in midweek – who were handed a lifeline as Neill handled the ball and referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot. Danny Murphy converted to give the last half hour a tension that had not seemed likely at the break.

West Ham though should have ended all hopes of a remarkable comeback when substitute Craig Bellamy was beautifully set up by Herita Ilunga only for Brede Hangeland to block his close range effort with 10 minutes remaining.

The visitors also missed a golden opportunity with 90 minutes on the clock as Bellamy turned provider only for Valon Behrami to see his shot well saved by Schwarzer.

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