Monday, 21 February 2011

West Ham 5 - 1 Burnley

West Ham cruised  into an FA Cup sixth-round tie at Stoke with a comprehensive win over Championship outfit Burnley.Thomas Hitzlsperger, making his long-awaited Hammers debut, opened the scoring with a trademark thunderbolt.Carlton Cole looked to be offside and to have handled the ball when he slotted home before his classy lob over Clarets keeper Lee Grant made it 3-0.In between Winston Reid's header and Freddie Sears' fine high finish, Jay Rodriguez was gifted a consolation.While Burnley had chances to exploit the home side's shaky defence, the cups continue to liberate the east Londoners, who have recorded three more wins in knockout competitions than in the Premier League this season.But, despite the crushing scoreline, it was the visitors who made the more promising start and Rodriguez should have punished the hesitant Reid after only 13 minutes but the Clarets striker spurned the opportunity with a tame shot.
Moments later West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green spared his side's blushes when he parried Ross Wallace's fizzing shot from the edge of the penalty area, before making a brilliant reaction save as Rodriguez tried to steer in the rebound from close-range.Failing to take their opportunities, Burnley were on the back foot as the Hammers finally found some rhythm.
The midfield trio of Scott Parker, Mark Noble and Hitzlsperger, who was making his first competitive start since joining in June 2010, worked well as the visitors struggled to impose themselves.
The hosts' superiority was rewarded in the 23rd minute in stunning fashion. Cutting in from the right, Hitzlsperger exploited a gap in front of the Burnley defence before unleashing a venomous dipping drive with his left foot from all of 25 yards.While Hitzlsperger's strike was a flash of brilliance, the kind of moment all too rare in West Ham's season, the Clarets paid the price for affording the German the time to align his shot - with Grant failing to at least get his fingertips to the ball.With the Upton Park faithful finding its voice, the visitors came under increasing pressure but managed to hold firm and even forced Green into action when Chris Eagles had a low shot after a neat flick from Rodriguez.
Tyrone Mears almost found a way behind the Hammers defence, outpacing Wayne Bridge down the flank to collect Wallace's threaded pass, only for James Tomkins thwart the attack with a timely interception of his cut-back to Rodriguez.
Burnley proved themselves capable of playing attractive football throughout the contest, but it was West Ham who were the more efficient in possession, and it was a neat build up that led to Cole's controversial strike which doubled the home side's lead barely three minutes after the restart.
Cole, picked out by an exquisite pass from the outside of Mark Noble's right boot, mis-controlled the ball with his second touch but as Grant had appeared to have smothered the shot, the England striker's persistence paid off as he picked himself up to scramble the ball home from close-range.
However, on closer-inspection, the ball clearly struck Cole's arm as he adjusted his body to shoot. The visitors were enraged that the goal was allowed to stand, especially given that Cole also appeared to be offside as Noble played him in.
With Burnley still rocking, Cole doubled his personal tally a minute later, but there was no doubt about this one.
Picking up another defence-splitting pass from Noble, the Hammers striker this time took an excellent touch after exploiting the Burnley offside trap, before stroking the ball over Grant and into the roof of the net.
As the Clarets went into damage-limitation mode, Reid made it 4-0 with a glancing header at the near post, having found space at Hitzlsperger's corner to score his first goal for the men from Upton Park.
The lively Rodriguez missed the opportunity to restore some pride for the visitors, blazing over from 20 yards, but he was rewarded for a decent personal display moments later.
Rather than clearing his lines, Wayne Bridge's ill-advised back pass to Green gave the England goalkeeper very little time to clear.
As a result Green's clearance ricocheted off the back of the charging Mears and the ball popped up for Rodriguez to nod into an empty net.
Burnley deserved something from the game, but West Ham manager Avram Grant will be disappointed that his side surrendered their clean sheet in such farcical circumstances.
Freddie Sears then wrapped the win in injury time, slotting home from 15 yards after the ball broke to him following Burnley's failure to clear.

No comments:

Post a Comment