Hammers burst five-goal bubble
West Ham United 5 Burnley 3
Sunday 29 November 2009
Five goals, three points, breathless entertainment and still the Upton Park faithful greeted the final whistle here with a loud, resounding boo.
Only at West Ham, perhaps, but the east London hordes who traipsed out of the stadium muttering into their pie and mash had a point. Their side might have run riot for an hour but, had the game lasted another 20 minutes, nobody in claret and blue would have been confident of a point.
"This sort of game is not so good to my heart," their manager Gianfranco Zola acknowledged. "We are fragile at the back at the moment and we need to balance attack and defence better, but I take positive things from this game. We should not be negative. It's been a great game, we scored five goals and people should be happy."
Maybe so, but West Ham were fortunate that, in Burnley, they were facing a defence even shakier than their own. The visitors were caught dozing in the 18th minute when Scott Parker chipped a free-kick over their back-line for Jack Collison to finish with aplomb into the bottom corner.
It was not the only impressive contribution from Parker yesterday, although he was edged out for the man-of-the-match award by the imperious Guillermo Franco. The Italian striker, who clattered the crossbar early on with a diving header, set up the second goal on 33 minutes with a delicious reverse pass to Junior Stanislas, who slid in from an acute angle after his initial shot was saved.
Two minutes before the interval Carlton Cole converted a penalty following Robbie Blake's clumsy foul on Jonathan Spector – the England striker's final contribution before being withdrawn at half-time with a knee injury – before Franco headed a deserved goal from a Stanislas free-kick six minutes after the break.
When Luis Jimenez slid in a second penalty after being brought down by Brian Jensen just after the hour, Burnley might have feared double figures. Instead, their comeback hinted at both their own attacking prowess and West Ham's shallow reserves of self-belief.
Steven Fletcher twice converted from close range after Chris Eagles had sent low crosses skidding into the home six-yard box, while the American notched a third in injury time, moments after Steven Caldwell had been sent off for hauling down Zavon Hines.
"It seems bizarre," said manager Owen Coyle, whose team have leaked 13 goals on three trips to London this season. "It's hard to argue with the stats that show how many we have conceded away from home. We were the architects of our own downfall."
Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the match: Guillermo Franco
Match rating: 4/10
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