Football: Flair of Sinclair

West Ham United 2 Sinclair 69, Unsworth 75 Chelsea 1 Charve t 54 Attendance: 25, 829
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The Independent Online
WEST HAM won a deserved victory over a lacklustre Chelsea yesterday to condemn Gianluca Vialli to his fourth managerial defeat in five Premiership games.

The win not only ended a sequence of six consecutive draws for the Hammers, it also confirmed that Harry Redknapp is assembling a squad that can produce results even when depleted. John Hartson and John Moncur were both suspended, while Steve Lomas, Paul Kitson and Tim Breacker were all injured. Their deputies performed admirably, with Trevor Sinclair especially impressive and Ian Bishop and Eyal Berkovic inspirational in an attacking display.

Chelsea, by contrast, only really threatened on a few occasions - on one of which they scored. Nine minutes into the second half, having created virtually nothing in the opening 45 minutes, Chelsea won a free-kick on the right edge of the box. Jody Morris tapped the ball to Roberto di Matteo who in turn crossed into the path of Laurent Charvet. Charvet, on loan from Cannes until the end of the season, headed the visitors into the lead.

The advantage had been taken against the run of play and West Ham, spurred by the injustice, rallied quickly. Fifteen minutes later, Bishop picked up a clearance from defence and set Steve Potts on a run towards goal. Potts passed two defenders before delicately chipping the ball on to Sinclair, who carefully placed the ball over Dmitri Kharine in the Chelsea goal.

Six minutes later, the ball fell to Bishop after a cleared corner and he drove it across the goal. David Unsworth simply had to connect to secure the points.

"We showed tremendous character today," said Redknapp."We're playing hard game after hard game and the team keep pulling the results out." He added that he had been especially impressed by Rio Ferdinand, who gave a magnificent performance in defence, and said that his main aim now was for a top-six finish.

Gianluca Vialli, on yesterday's performance, will be fortunate if he can keep Chelsea from falling out of that group. He was resting after the midweek win over Crystal Palace and whether his absence, or simply tiredness, was the main reason for his team's failure to perform, the Italian will need to do something to improve Chelsea's fortunes. They may still be on course for European success, but Premiership supremacy still appears to be a long way off.

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