Wondergoals from Anton Ferdinand and Yossi Benayoun consigned Fulham to a 2-1 defeat at West Ham tonight in an open game that the visitors largely dpminated.
Alan Pardew’s men have added a new member to their attacking arsenal, with Dean Ashton paraded around the Upton Park pitch before kick off, but it was centre back Ferdinand who provided the firepower – scoring a sensational opener on the volley from the edge of the box. Benayon doubled the Hammers’ lead with a magical strike before half-time and, although Fulham rallied in the second half following Heidar Helguson’s well-taken volley, Chris Coleman’s side couldn’t pull off a comeback.
West Ham had lost four straight league matches and badly needed a boost. It came from a spectacular strike by Ferdinand, who hooked a sensational first-time strike past Antti Niemi from the edge of the area after Marlon Harewood had flicked on a corner. Another sublime strike doubled the lead just before the half hour. Matthew Etherington found Benayoun on the right wing and the little Israeli twisted and turned away from Carlos Bocanegra before lifting a lovely lob over Niemi.
The Finnish goalkeeper then pulled off two excellent stops to prevent the Hammers, who had been distinctly second best before Ferdinand’s opener, from going in at half-time four up. Niemi blocked from Benayoun twice in quick succession succession before Bobby Zamora sent a far post header over the top.
Bocanegra escaped any sanction after he appeared to pull back Zamora at the start of the second half and Fulham made the most of that stroke of luck by getting back into the game shortly afterwards. Brian McBride headed on a forward ball from Zat Knight and Helguson drilled home his fifth goal of the season via the far post. Referee Uriah Rennie then waved away strong penalty appeals after the Icelandic international was knocked over by Paul Konchesky in the box and substitute Tomasz Radzinski drew a fine save from Roy Carroll with almost his first touch.
Fulham were causing real nervousness amongst the natives, who had cause to be worried when Boa Morte bounded down the left flank, darted inside and shot for the far corner with Carroll having to palm it around the post. Zamora might have made a tense finale more comfortable but he rattled the post with a downward header from Etherington’s excellent cross. As it was was, West Ham clung on for their first league win at the Boleyn Ground since bonfire night.
WEST HAM UNITED (4-4-2): Carroll; Repka, Ferdinand, Gabbidon, Konchesky; Benayoun (Katan 86), Mullins, Reo-Coker, Etherington (Newton 90); Harewood, Zamora (Dailly 80). Subs (not used): Hislop, Sheringham.
BOOKED: Benayoun, Dailly.
GOALS: Ferdinand (17), Benayoun (28).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Niemi; Rosenior, Bridge, Knight, Bocanegra; Elliott, Legwinski, Malbranque (Radzinski 62), Boa Morte; Helguson, McBride (John 70). Subs (not used): Warner, Goma, N. Jensen.
BOOKED: Boa Morte, Rosenior.
GOAL: Helguson (52).
REFEREE: Uriah Rennie (South Yorkshire).
Ref: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).