Football: Kitson keeps Europe in sight

West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 0 Di Canio 17, Kitson 82 Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 25,997; Day Hammers took full advantage of Di Canio's sweet cameo

WEST HAM'S Anglo-Italian alliance had the Eastenders dreaming of Europe yesterday. Paolo di Canio and Paul Kitson both hit the target against a disappointing Newcastle side to lift Harry Redknapp's men into fifth place in the Premiership and within striking distance of a Uefa Cup place.

As the West Ham manager pointed out afterwards, a few years ago Newcastle would have visited Upton Park with the expectation of walking away with all three points. Back then Newcastle were also regulars in Europe, but, as Redknapp said: "They have gone backwards a bit recently."

Having completed the double over the Magpies this season, Redknapp has proof that the tables have now turned and the perfect way to demonstrate that beyond any doubt would be for West Ham to play in Europe for the first time since the early 1980s.

Before Kitson scored West Ham's second goal seven minutes from time, Redknapp's men were on their way to registering a 1-0 thrashing, such was the extent of Newcastle's anaemic performance.

Ruud Gullit made three changes to his side after their defeat against Manchester United last week but that made them look even more disjointed, while the West Ham defence coped easily with the threat, such as it was, from Alan Shearer and Louis Saha. The former had only one shot on goal, a free-kick turned away well by Shaka Hislop after just four minutes, while the latter's only shot came closer to putting out a floodlight than ever illuminating his own performance.

Di Canio gave West Ham the lead and, with the greatest of irony, he did it with the help of the referee, Paul Durkin. It was Di Canio, after all, who made himself an enemy of the men in the middle by pushing over Durkin's fellow referee Paul Alcock last September, an action which ultimately led to the Italian joining West Ham.

With 15 minutes gone the ball deflected to Di Canio and, despite the assistant referee flagging for offside, Durkin waved play on after seeing the ball reach the Italian off Newcastle's Nikos Dabizas. All that was left was for Di Canio to stroll unchallenged into the penalty area and roll the ball into the net, with Newcastle's defence left square and stranded 20 yards further back. Gullit later called Durkin's decision correct but accused his defence of being "sloppy".

By now Di Canio was tormenting the Newcastle back line and it was the former Milan, Celtic and Sheffield Wednesday striker who, after 13 minutes, crossed from the left only for Kitson to glance his header over the bar. Then, with 28 minutes gone, Di Canio again caused panic only for Dabizas to clear over the crossbar in front of his goalkeeper.

It was a good thing Kitson eventually did score, as it was his miss after 67 minutes that gave Newcastle the belief they could still snatch something from the game. Di Canio crossed, but Kitson's header hit the post before Laurent Charvet cleared off the line. He was more clinical with his next chance, turning Dabizas and slotting the ball past Shay Given after Frank Lampard had found him with a 30-yard pass.

Redknapp was particularly pleased with Di Canio's efforts. He said: "[He] was off for four months and still feels he's only 65 or 70 per cent fit but he was tremendous, especially in the first half-hour. I never thought he was really a gamble. He works hard, his attitude is great and you can't get him off the training field. He lives right, he eats right, he lives for the game and he's so excited that we've won today."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?