Hammers nail down Wembley final place

West Ham one step closer to top-flight return – and £90m – after 5-0 aggregate win over Cardiff

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The Independent Online

West Ham United captain Kevin Nolan last night insisted his side have the momentum going into next week's Championship play-off final after he scored in a 5-0 aggregate win over Cardiff City.

West Ham swept aside the Bluebirds, goals from Nolan, Ricardo Vaz Te and Nicky Maynard booking West Ham a trip to Wembley for the first time in 31 years. They now face Blackpool or Birmingham on 19 May for a shot at the estimated £90m promotion brings.

Nolan said: "Winning 2-0 away [in the first leg] was always a good platform but we knew we needed to do the business here. The goal settled us. Cardiff can't complain with the result over the two legs. Over the last six or seven weeks we've been great. What we've managed over the last few weeks is score goals."

Cardiff began the season with victory at Upton Park but ended it suffering play-off heartache for the third successive year. They arrived in east London as huge underdogs and West Ham struck a crucial early blow from Matt Taylor's corner. Carlton Cole's close-range header was blocked by Mark Hudson only for Nolan to nod in his 13th of the season.

It was one-way traffic and five minutes before the interval the hosts doubled their lead. Cardiff defender Stephen McPhail missed Guy Demel's pass but Vaz Te did not, blasting an unstoppable angled drive past Marshall. Hammers substitute Maynard had the final say, with a superb finish from Henri Lansbury's through-ball a minute from time.

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