Parker pens West Ham's survival story

West Ham United 3 Wigan Athletic 2: Midfielder caps powerhouse display with a 30-yard thunderbolt to all but ensure the Hammers will stay up

West Ham were celebrating their survival in the Premier League last night after Scott Parker drove them to victory against Wigan. There is still a mathematical chance of relegation but it would take an unlikely turn of events for that to happen.

Gianfranco Zola's team twice conceded goals from corners here but battled back in each half to extend the gap between themselves and the three teams in the relegation zone. The Italian, who has seen his position questioned in a season of struggle, said: "It was very gratifying. It shows that through all the problems there has been a compactness between the players and staff.

"It was never my intention to leave this place in the situation we were in. Everyone was down, and in those moments feeling the players behind me and their fighting spirit helped."

West Ham's co-owner David Sullivan used his programme notes to say he was "mystified by the performance at Liverpool" in midweek, when Zola's men surrendered meekly. One explanation was the absence of Parker, as the midfielder was completing a two-match suspension.

Parker's return was the only change from Anfield, with Zola taking "a step back to make two forward", in his words, in his bid to steer the club towards safety. In the end Parker's contribution was the difference.

When Carlos Tevez inspired the Hammers' improbable escape three years ago, they had defeated Wigan in the final month of the season, although this time they were facing a team full of confidence following a stunning comeback against Arsenal the previous weekend.

The Latics' owner, Dave Whelan, had promised his squad a trip to the Caribbean if they avoid the drop, and within four minutes his players' thoughts were turning towards sunning themselves on the beach. After Hugo Rodallega's shot was blocked, Ben Watson swung over the free-kick from the left and caught Jonathan Spector facing his own goal with nowhere to turn. The American defender tried to chest the ball but bundled it past Robert Green.

The visitors had picked up where they left off against Arsenal, sparking a response from the hosts. After a fortunate ricochet in midfield, Carlton Cole found himself with just the goalkeeper to beat. The England forward took it around Chris Kirkland but his finish was cleared by Gary Caldwell dashing back and thrusting out a boot.

It could have become worse for the hosts when James McCarthy's long-range drive was tipped on to the crossbar by Green on the half-hour mark. "The save was a key moment," Zola said. "Going two goals down to Wigan would have been tough, but the reaction was amazing and we never let ourselves down."

Ilan took advantage of the reprieve in the next attack. Cole created the equaliser, using his strength to get between Mario Melchiot and Caldwell before crossing for his strike partner to prod home.

The match was turned on its head in stoppage time after Titus Bramble went into the back of Cole 25 yards from goal. Mark Noble's set-piece was heading towards the top corner before Kirkland stuck out a hand, with Radoslav Kovac holding off Caldwell to head into the empty net.

It should have led to Zola's men closing out the game but, unfortunately for them, the second half started in the same fashion as the first. Watson swung over another corner and this time it went in off Rodallega after Victor Moses's flick, with Hammers players demanding the strike be chalked off for handball.

Parker's moment came 13 minutes from time when Manuel da Costa's long ball was nodded down for the midfielder to unleash a 30-yard drive into the corner.

Wigan's manager, Roberto Martinez, said: "We allowed West Ham to score three goals out of very little but take nothing away from Scott Parker's goal, that was a real touch of magic."

Martinez's side are also virtually safe, but the Spaniard added: "Mathematically we're not. We have two left, one at home. We have to go to Chelsea and have a say in the title race."

Attendance: 33,057

Referee: Alan Wiley

Man of the match: Parker

Match rating: 7/10

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower