Cole provides a cutting edge for Zola's cavaliers

West Ham United 2 Hull City 0
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The Independent Football

Seven undefeated, level on points with seventh-placed Wigan Athletic and they should have scored seven – just as they did the last time Hull played at Upton Park in 1990 when even Steve Potts scored. Such was West Ham's dominance again. These are sweet, sweet times for Gianfranco Zola, fashioning a team in his own exuberant style and making all and sundry believe. Really believe.

"The team is strong physically, mentally and technically and we are building something important here," Zola said. "Today was the best game [we've played] but I have been saying that after every game recently."

For Hull it's hell. A sixth straight league defeat and the heady early season's days have been replaced by a dull ache and the real threat of going down, with manager Phil Brown admitting: "We are in relegation form and we need to address that as soon as possible."

The catalogue of West Ham's scoring opportunities was vast. A goal apiece for their strikers – David di Michele and Carlton Cole – who also vied with each other for the man-of-the-match award for their indefatigable performances. And the less cherished miss-of-the-match award after both wasted chances when clear on goal.

West Ham struck the woodwork twice – three times in fact although they profited from the last one as Cole poked in the rebound after Di Michele's angled shot had struck a post – missed a penalty and squandered chance after chance as their fluid, pass-and-move football overwhelmed a shattered Hull side who were indebted to a nimble display by goalkeeper Matt Duke, making his first start in this division.

"The difference was their two strikers," Brown said. He could have added the goalkeeper, back four and midfield also. Move after move tore through Hull. Here's a quick summary: James Collins headed narrowly wide, twice, Duke pushed away Jack Collison's low drive, Di Michele curled an exquisite shot against the inside of the post and then a Cole effort was deflected wide.

From the corner, Cole twisted and turned and was tripped. Duke beat out Mark Noble's penalty. Then, Duke parried one Cole shot, the striker sent in another which the keeper pushed into Di Michele's path and he forced the ball into the roof of the net.

On it went. Cole scored – his sixth in seven games – while Hull clung on to an impactful cameo from £5m record signing Jimmy Bullard who forced a superb save from Robert Green from distance. Twice more, Cole went close before Noble's finely-weighted chip was tipped over. There was even time for a brief debut for new £10m signing Savio Nsereko.

Goals: Di Michele (33) 1-0; Cole (51) 2-0.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Green; Neill, Upson, Collins, Ilunga; Behrami, Noble (Boa Morte, 84), Parker, Collison (Faubert, 72); Di Michele (Savio, 87), Cole. Substitutes not used: Lastuvka (gk), Tristan, Tomkins, Sears.

Hull City (4-3-1-2): Duke; Ricketts, Turner, Zayatte, Dawson; Marney (Mendy, 74), Ashbee, Kilbane; Geovanni (Bullard, 53); Cousin, Manucho (Fagan, 53). Substitutes not used: Myhill (gk), Fagan, Garcia, Halmosi, Folan.

Referee: H Webb (S Yorkshire).

Booked: Hull Marney.

Man of the match: Cole.

Attendance: 34,340.

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