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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'