Football: Hammers haunted by Carbone

West Ham United 0 Sheffield Wednesday 4 Hinchcliffe 26, Rudi 31, Humphreys 68, Carbone pen 73 Half-time: 0-2 Attendance: 25,642
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The Independent Online
THE EAST END faithful must have approached Upton Park with trepidation after the ignominy inflicted on West Ham on the far-flung foreign Vetch Field in midweek, and their worst fears materialised. Outplayed and out- thought by a Wednesday side superbly marshalled with tactical flair by the impressive Wim Jonk, they were bereft of any idea of how to subdue the other visiting Europeans, Benito Carbone and powerful, direct Norwegian Petter Rudi.

It was vital for the Hammers to pull off enough early tricks to diminish the bad memories of the past week, but their early efforts were somewhat hindered by a makeshift attack which banked on Trevor Sinclair's pace allied with the gentler Samassi Abou. Even if Emerson Thome was occasionally hesitant, Des Walker's instincts were still sharp enough to compensate in the visitors' defence.

Neil Ruddock hammered wide an early free-kick and Frank Lampard did likewise in the 17th minute. Wednesday's only reply had been a Benito Carbone shot which Shaka Hislop flipped over the bar. However, the keeper wasn't so confident in the 26th minute when Wim Jonk found the little Italian unattached on the edge of the Hammers' penalty box. Carbone's pass slid into the path of the galloping Andy Hinchcliffe and Hislop allowed his shot to slip through his hands and over the line.

Within a minute Sinclair had finally broken through the Wednesday defence but a defender blocked. Just after the half-hour the dark clouds were really gathering over the East End as Rudi gathered another lethal pass from Jonk to drive home the second goal.

The substitution of an injured Ruddock with Joe Cole four minutes from half-time did spark some response and Pavel Srnicek actually had to make a save when he dived to deflect Lampard's shot and then pulled off a confident diving catch to thwart Abou.

But West Ham were in need of a miracle worker by then and, whatever the potential of the 17-year-old Cole, he isn't that yet. Still, he got himself booked for a bit of shirt-pulling in the second half.

The second substitution of Eyal Berkovic, easily the most creative and industrious presence on the day, may have been mystifying, but his replacement by striker Paul Kitson should have provided a cutting edge they were woefully missing. But before Kitson was allowed to make an impact, Carbone sent Niclas Alexandersson haring past Minto for Ritchie Humphries to get his foot to the cross for Wednesday's third.

And that wasn't all. In the 72nd minute Carbone's continual torment of the home defence provoked Ian Pearce into hauling his legs from under him. The Italian took revenge by sending the penalty high and wide beyond Hislop for Wednesday's fourth.

Kitson managed to find the visitors' net a minute from the end but, on this kind of day, he inevitably was ruled offside.