Defoe delivers a touch of Pele to dazzle Palace

West Ham United 3 Crystal Palace 0
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The Independent Football

A certain someone with the initials TB announced he was not for turning two days ago, but while Tony Blair is not for turning, West Ham fans wish Trevor Brooking would change his mind.

The Hammers' caretaker manager has made the job look easy in his two stints in charge but long ago insisted he would not do a U-turn and take the job permanently.

Instead he is handing over the reins to Alan Pardew on 18 October, with a club that is eyeing an instant return to the Premiership, something that will become ever more likely if they produce more assured performances like this.

But while things look on the up for the east Londoners, they are distinctly bleak for their neighbours from the south-east part of the capital, as the Eagles have now picked up only two points from their last seven games. While Brooking will leave Upton Park on a high, Steve Kember, his counterpart at Palace, might be forced to leave on a very different note if results and performances continue in this vein.

Pele once tried to score from a magnificent piece of improvisation which involved dummying the goalkeeper. Where the great Brazilian failed, in the 1970 World Cup, Jermain Defoe succeeded last night and put West Ham in command.

Defoe copied Pele's move by letting a diagonal pass run untouched across him in front of the goalkeeper before going back round the stranded player to shoot. All those years ago Pele pulled his shot wide but Defoe, who latched on to Michael Hughes' short back-pass, poked the ball into the empty net.

With Palace failing to pose a significant threat, West Ham doubled their lead before the break. Defoe had broken the deadlock after 20 minutes and Neil Mellor, from Matthew Etherington's cross, headed past Cedric Berthelin from close range 12 minutes later, only moments after seeing another effort of his parried away.

The Hammers had come back from a two-goal deficit to win their Carling Cup match last week but ensured they would not suffer a similar fate when Mellor scored the third goal after 56 minutes.

Etherington passed to the left-back Wayne Quinn, who ran unchallenged into the penalty area and crossed for the Liverpool loan signing to tap the second goal of his West Ham career into the unguarded net.

Kember felt his side had not helped themselves, saying: "We committed suicide for the first goal. You can't give West Ham chances like that."

West Ham (4-3-3): James; Quinn (Kilgallon 62), Dailly, Pearce, Repka; Lee (Ferdinand 62), Etherington, Horlock; Connolly, Defoe, Mellor (Alexandersson 80). Substitutes not used: Bywater (gk), Garcia.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Berthelin; Butterfield, Mullins, Powell (Fleming 82), Smith (Borrowdale 49); Derry, Hughes, Riihilahti, Johnson; Freedman, Shipperley (Routledge 63). Substitutes not used: Cronin (gk), Symons.

Referee: M Jones (Cheshire)

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