Gianfranco Zola believes his struggling West Ham side can pull away from the relegation zone after claiming their first victory since the opening day of the season.
A 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa on Wednesday evening was also the Hammers’ first home win of the season and Zola believes the gutsy performance from his players could represent a turning point in what has been a tough campaign so far.
An injury-time winner from substitute Zavon Hines sealed the points after Villa’s Ashley Young had cancelled out a Mark Noble penalty.
“The team is playing better and this may well be the turning point,” Zola said. “We demonstrated desire and belief and that’s what we wanted. Everything else is there. It was a fantastic game to win.”
As well as firing the winner, England under-21 striker Hines won the penalty that allowed his side to take the lead and he could now be be set for a run in the team after England striker Carlton Cole suffered a hamstring strain.
“Every time I play Hines he’s been very good,” Zola enthused. “He just needs to keep working the way he is doing. I am very pleased for him and for us. But he deserves to be in the spotlight.”
Villa boss Martin O’Neill was bitterly disappointed by the manner of a defeat which cost the Birmingham club the chance to move into the top four in the Premier League.
“I think we did enough to get something out of the game,” the Villa boss said. “We were in the ascendancy in the first half and their goalkeeper made some good saves.
“We looked a very good threat and thought we would go on to win it. You can lose a goal at any stage but it is disappointing to lose at that stage.
“We looked tired in the last 15 minutes but it is not an excuse.”
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