Tristan strike sinks Potters
Diego Tristan's free-kick was enough to claim a West Ham win over Stoke that enhances their chances of Europe.
By Hayley Paterson
Last Updated: 02/05/09 6:34pm
Diego Tristan's free-kick was enough to claim a West Ham win over Stoke City that enhances their chances of securing a lucrative European spot.
Gianfranco Zola's men travelled to the Britannia Stadium to face a Stoke City side eager to ensure their Premier League survival, being one point away from that magic 40-point safety mark.
Tony Pulis's side had an effort disallowed when striker Ricardo Fuller was adjudged to have fouled Robert Green before firing home.
Minutes later David Di Michele netted at the other end, but it had already been disallowed due to a Tristan handball in the build-up.
However West Ham made sure of the opener just after the half-hour when a foul from Abdoulaye Faye resulted in a freekick around 25 yards out. Tristan stepped up to convert as he curled his effort superbly into the top corner.
Half-chances came and went for either side as late on Mark Noble headed Faye's looping effort off the line to ensure all three points stayed with the Hammers.
Few changes were made from either side for West Ham's trip north. Zola made one change from the side which lost to Chelsea as the Italian boss opted for Robert Kovac ahead of Kieron Dyer.
Tony Pulis welcomed back James Beattie with his first start since shaking off a thigh injury and Andy Wilkinson came in at the back.
As ever, Stoke were a threat from Rory Delap's long throws and he picked out Ryan Shawcross in the opening minutes, only for the defender to head straight at Green.
Fuller then found the net for Stoke two minutes later after beating Green to the ball, but his effort was disallowed for an earlier infringement on the England 'keeper.
Di Michele then found the net in the 14th minute only to have it disallowed after Tristan appeared to have handled the ball as he laid it off to the Italian.
A resilient Stoke side have been tough to breakdown on home turf this season but Tristan gave West Ham the lead in the 33rd minute with a superb set-piece.
Faye brought down Di Michele and Tristan stepped up to lash the free-kick past Thomas Sorensen for his third goal of the season.
Stoke almost equalised in the 40th minute when former Hammers midfielder Matthew Etherington found Fuller with a deft lay-off, but Green reacted well to take the ball off his toes as he prepared to shoot from point-blank range.
The open game was slightly marred as it neared the end of the first-half when Delap and West Ham's Luis Boa Morte both lunged in for the ball.
The long throw specialist seemed to come out of the challenge worse off but reacted by kicking out at the Portuguese winger as referee Peter Walton booked them both.
No changes were made during half-time as Stoke started to counter well and began to string a few passes together.
Fuller clipped a shot wide of the post in the 59th minute as Stoke, urged on by their atmospheric home support, pressed for an equaliser.
The Potters came close to equalising again in the 74th minute when Liam Lawrence delivered a corner from the left. Faye powered in a header at the back post but Noble cleared off the line.
They kept pushing forward but West Ham should have added a second in stoppage time as they went on the counter. Tristan had time on the ball with substitute Freddie Sears unmarked at the back post, but the Spaniard opted to chip the advancing Sorensen only to see his effort go wide of the far post.
Zola's side managed to hang on for the three points and also ended Stoke's excellent unbeaten run of eight games to remain seventh in the Premier League.
The Hammers need to win their last three matches to have the chance to play European football next season while Pulis' side will have a nail-biting finish to their solid league campaign.
|Stoke City||Team Statistics||West Ham United|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|2||Shots on Target||3|
|6||Shots off Target||4|