West Ham have endured a pretty miserable time off the field, with the Carlos Tevez affair, Carlton Cole's arrest on suspicion of drink-driving and the collapse of their shirt sponsors but things are starting to pick up on it. Yesterday's triumph made it two wins out of two in the Premier League under Gianfranco Zola's management and although they made hard work of it against 10-man Fulham, the Italian can be satisfied with his start.
Two goals arrived in as many minutes for Cole and Matthew Etherington at the end of a first half dominated by Fulham, and the home side's cause was further undermined when Andrew Johnson was sent off for a second yellow card just before the interval. They pulled one back with a Danny Murphy penalty shortly before the hour-mark and created more than West Ham, but Zola's men were able to hang on.
The Hammers enjoy these short trips across town, their Premier League tally standing at five wins and a draw here. Yet Fulham, buoyed by back-to-back home victories against Arsenal and Bolton, created a host of chances. "Yet again I am happy with the way we played but not at all happy with what we have taken from the game," said Fulham's manager, Roy Hodgson.
His side were straight at West Ham, Simon Davies volleying wide after six minutes and Bobby Zamora heading over. Zamora, signed from Upton Park for just under £5 million in the summer, could have had a hat-trick.
Fulham were in control but then lost their heads. Johnson ought to have gone for his first bad tackle, a studs-high assault on West Ham's left-back Herita Ilunga, but received a yellow card, and tempers flared again when John Pantsil clattered into his old team-mate Robert Green when the keeper had got down to a Bullard free-kick.
Paul Konchesky and Murphy were also shown cards, the former after he sent Etherington tumbling. It appeared to fire up the winger, who set up the first goal – a tap-in for Cole – after a thrilling run down the right.
That was two minutes from the break and Etherington added the second in first-half injury-time when he beat the advancing Mark Schwarzer to Mark Noble's through ball. There was still time for Johnson to get himself sent off, for raising a boot and catching Lucas Neill. "I think that was an unfortunate decision from the referee," complained Hodgson. "Johnson was actually caught by Neill."
Fulham responded to Hodgson's words at the interval, and got back into the match after 58 minutes when Neill handled a Zoltan Gera header and Murphy scored from the spot.
Gera, Bullard and Zamora all went close, but the miss of the day came from late substitute Craig Bellamy, who squandered an open goal after his first effort had been blocked.
Zola was asked if his team had been lucky. "I'll let you decide," he said. "You need a bit of luck and I won't say no to it." His countryman Fabio Capello, who made his way here after finding he couldn't get a flight to Newcastle, would doubtless have agreed.Reuse content