Resentful Rodallega takes it out on Hammers
Wigan Athletic 1 West Ham United 0
Sunday 13 September 2009
It has been a harsh introduction to the Premier League for Roberto Martinez but his decision to unleash a frustrated Hugo Rodallega on West Ham United was rewarded with his first home win.
After successive humblings by Wolves and Manchester United, Martinez tasted his first success as a Premier League manager on his own turf after Rodallega finally ended Robert Green's brave resistance. Rodallega was harbouring a sense of injustice after spending almost 24 hours flying to and back from Uruguay for Colombia's World Cup qualifier without making an appearance.
But the forward pounced with his second goal of the campaign as the England goalkeeper Green's crusade was cruelly brought to an end 10 minutes into the second half.
Martinez said: "Hugo only arrived home at midday on Friday and I did consider resting him. But he promised me at half-time that he would score – he was that determined.
"He was disappointed not to play for Colombia but we want players with his attitude, desperate to win games. It wasn't an outstanding performance from us in every department but we deserved three points."
It was cruel on the goalkeeper who had "England's No 6" embroidered into his gloves not so long ago but is now leading the race to become Fabio Capello's No 1 in South Africa. It perhaps says much for the current dearth of keepers that Green has managed to restore himself in such swift fashion but he did well here yesterday.
Jordi Gomez, the Wigan midfielder, tested Green with two early drives from distance that were repelled with a minimum of fuss but his first-half save from Rodallega's deflected strike, tipping a swirling shot over the crossbar, was sublime.
The second half saw a marked improvement in quality as Wigan's long wait for a goal at home ended on 55 minutes. Once again, Green performed heroics to deny Jason Koumas but he was helpless to prevent Rodallega from slashing the ball home.
West Ham came back hard in search of a swift equaliser with James Tomkins heading wide before Chris Kirkland clawed Scott Parker's drive over the crossbar. But Gianfranco Zola's managerial anniversary brought no joy as the substitute Valon Behrami struck the upright 12 minutes from time.
"I'm expecting the team to play a little bit better than they did today," admitted Zola. "It is not the first time we have started a second half not at the same level as the first. It's something that we need to work on."
Referee: Alan Wiley
Man of the match: Green
Match rating: 5/10
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