Di Canio at heart of West Ham's advance

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The Independent Online

Davor Suker and Paolo Di Canio scored the goals that saw off the challenge of Blackburn Rovers at Upton Park. After knocking out Walsall in the second round of the Worthington Cup, West Ham overturned a resolute Rovers side, with the Italian and the Croatian proving the difference between the teams.

Davor Suker and Paolo Di Canio scored the goals that saw off the challenge of Blackburn Rovers at Upton Park. After knocking out Walsall in the second round of the Worthington Cup, West Ham overturned a resolute Rovers side, with the Italian and the Croatian proving the difference between the teams.

Suker gave the Hammers the lead after 67 minutes with a close range volley after Frederic Kanoute had headed on Di Canio's right-wing corner. Di Canio sealed his side's passage to the fourth round 16 minutes later when he swooped on the rebound of his own penalty.

Striker Frederic Kanoute, who scored the winner against Newcastle at the weekend, had two chances in the opening minutes to give the Hammers the lead, but he was denied on both occasions by Blackburn's goalkeeper, Alan Kelly.

Kanoute's strike partner Suker, promoted to the starting line-up after coming on as a substitute on Saturday, threatened to break the deadlock with two audacious chips - first from the left and then from the right. He left Kelly stranded with both efforts, but each time the ball drifted just over the bar.

The West Ham manager, Harry Redknapp, opted to play Di Canio behind the front two to provide a link between midfield and attack, and the system almost worked perfectly midway through the half. The Italian slotted a measured pass to the overlapping Frank Lampard, who found the left-hand corner, only for a linesman's flag to disallow the effort.

Blackburn rarely troubled the Hammers, but goalkeeper Shaka Hislop was forced to turn the ball behind following Mark Richards' well-struck volley at the far post.

Rovers continued to mount pressure in the early stages of the second half, but the hosts came to life after Di Canio, at the centre of everything productive for his side, volleyed just over after a quick exchange of passes with Kanoute on the edge of the box.

Soon after Suker had calmed the home fans' nerves with the opening goal, Kanoute went close to extending the lead but his shot on the run was smothered by the legs of Kelly at his near post.

West Ham United (3-5-2): Hislop; S Pearce, I Pearce, Ferdinand; Sinclair, Carrick, Lampard, Potts, Di Canio; Kanoute (Moncur, 90), Suker. Substitutes not used: Bywater, Keller, Charles, Kitson.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Kelly; Kenna, Dailly, Taylor (Flitcroft, 73), Curtis; Johnson (Douglas, 54), Dunning, Carsley, McAteer; Ostenstad, Richards (Dunn, 67). Substitutes not used: Filan, O'Brien.

Referee: A Wiley (Burntwood).

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