Di Canio steals show as Charlton pay penalty again

West Ham United 2 Charlton Athletic 0
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The Independent Football

Paolo Di Canio ended another controversial week in the spotlight, scoring the opening goal after winning a dubious penalty and then being carried off with what appeared to be ligament damage as his side moved up into seventh place in the Premiership. Charlton did not help their cause, missing a fourth successive spot kick, this time through the England Under-21 international Paul Konchesky.

The West Ham captain had thrown a tantrum when he was substituted during last Monday's 1-0 win at Fulham, and claimed fellow striker Frédéric Kanouté should have gone off instead. But Di Canio marked his 100th League appearance for the Hammers with a dubious penalty after 23 minutes. He turned past Mark Kinsella in the box after 23 minutes and was body-checked. It looked like obstruction but referee Mike Riley had no hesitation in awarding the penalty, the Italian scoring his ninth League goal of the season.

Kanouté, who had scored the winner at Craven Cottage, struck the second goal, his 11th in the League, after 34 minutes at the end of a fine four-man move. Joe Cole beat two men on the left before passing to Kanouté, who fed Di Canio. Sebastian Schemmel burst into the box and Di Canio played a pass which looked like running into touch, but the Frenchman pulled it back across goal and Kanouté crashed it into the roof of the net.

Charlton were unlucky not to score as Jonatan Johansson saw a header hit the post and Kinsella's shot shaved the bar. With both teams having avoided releg-ation and out of the running for Europe, there was a possibility of a repeat of the goal feast at The Valley in November, when this London derby finished 4-4.

West Ham had a good chance after 10 minutes when Cole chested down a clearance on the edge of the box and drilled in a low shot which Dean Kiely saved diving to his right. Charlton almost found a way back into the match after 37 minutes when Konchesky crossed from the left and Johansson sent a header against David James' right-hand post. The keeper then produced a fine save to tip over a fierce drive from Graham Stuart at the edge of the box on the stroke of half-time.

Michael Carrick nearly scored one of the goals of the season 45 seconds into the second half. He ran unchallenged from one area to the other before driving in a shot which Kiely saved with his legs.

There was a scare for the home side after 48 minutes when Tomas Repka carelessly lost possession on the edge of his own box and Luke Young shot into the side netting. West Ham were saved by the woodwork again after 51 minutes, Kinsella's shot shaving the top of the bar. After 62 minutes Trevor Sinclair returned the compliment by drilling a low shot from 20 yards against Kiely's right-hand post.

Di Canio seemed to have been caught late by Scott Parker, though he later said he had caught his studs in the turf, and was replaced by Jermain Defoe. Charlton were then handed a lifeline after 71 minutes when Nigel Winterburn fouled Johansson and Riley awarded a penalty. But Konchesky blasted it over the bar and any hopes of a revival evaporated. But the Charlton manager Alan Curbishley reflected on the first penalty instead: "Di Canio used every ounce of his ability and every ounce of his professionalism."

West Ham United 2 Charlton Athletic 0 Di Canio pen 23, Kanouté 34

Half-time: 2-0 Attendance: 32,389

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