Avram Grant's side recover from poor start to turn the game on its headWest Ham United came from behind to beat Stoke City 3-1 after extra time and secure their place in the Carling Cup quarter final. USA international Jonathan Spector was not in the 18-man match roster for the Hammers.
After a woeful start which saw Stoke take the lead after just five minutes through Kenwyne Jones, the Hammers grew into the game and secured an equaliser six minutes from the end of normal time through Scott Parker. Manuel Da Costa and Victor Obinna then turned the game on its head in extra time to secure victory for Avram Grant’s side.
Both teams opted to start with similar starting XI’s to those selected for their last Carling Cup outings, with West Ham changing only their two forwards from win against Sunderland, Benni McCarthy and Carlton Cole replacing Victor Obinna and Frederic Piquionne.
Meanwhile, Stoke made just three changes to the side that faced Fulham last month, with Dean Whitehead, Jermaine Pennant and Jon Walters starting.
It was Stoke that started the brighter and they took the lead after just five minutes in typical style. The Potters won a corner, which Jermaine Pennant swung in for Kenwyne Jones to power a header past Marek Stech in the West Ham goal for his fifth goal of the season.
The goal seemed to stir the home side and they were the next to threaten, with Pablo Barrera firing over the bar from just outside the area.
In an opening 20 minutes that was lacking in any real quality passing, Stoke almost got a second goal. Danny Higginbotham curled a cross in from the left, but Tuncay, fresh from his wonder goal against Manchester United at the weekend, failed to hit the target with a headed effort.
Despite neither side really managing to get any sort of rhythm in their passing, the game began to improve slightly midway through the first half, with West Ham looking to get themselves back in the game.
They had the chance to level just after the half hour mark with Pablo Barrera’s effort blocked by Glenn Whelan. From the resulting corner James Tomkins managed to find some space, but could only direct his header over the bar.
However, this proved to be one of only a few decent chances for the home side in the opening 45 minutes, with Benni McCarthy summing up their poor play five minutes before the break.
The striker, who was making his first start for more than seven months, failed to connect with the ball entirely with an air shot from inside the six yard box after some good work from Luis Boa Morte.
The Hammers did at least finish the half slightly stronger with McCarthy heading over from a corner with the last action of the opening period.
Both sides seemed to step up a gear in the opening exchanges of the second half, with Whelan seeing an effort blocked for Stoke just three minutes after the restart.
James Tomkins then had a brilliant opportunity to level the scores for the home side after 54 minutes. Asmir Begovic failed to get to Barrera’s corner, but the defender could only direct his header agonisingly wide of the right hand post.
Stoke were next to threaten just before the hour mark through Tuncay. The energetic Higginbotham lofted a good ball over the West Ham defence, but the striker’s powerful effort was tipped around the post by Stech in the Hammers goal.
With his team struggling to make any real impact going forward, Avram Grant decided to adopt a more attacking approach, opting to replace Radoslav Kovac with Victor Obinna.
The young striker seemed to add some much needed attacking intent to the Hammers’ play, and he had a good chance to level with 18 minutes left on the clock. The Nigerian let fly from the edge of the area, but Begovic produced a brilliant diving save to maintain Stoke’s lead.
With the game entering the final stages, West Ham fans went from despair to ecstasy in the space of a couple of minutes.
First, Julien Faubert was denied what was seemingly a clear penalty after Ryan Shawcross looked to have fouled the Frenchman inside the area. However, Howard Webb instead chose to give a corner, much to the dismay of the Hammers fans.
However, with just six minutes left on the clock, Scott Parker popped up to head his side level and delight the home crowd. Pablo Barrera sent in a deft cross into the Stoke area and Parker headed past Begovic from inside the six yard area.
The home side were visibly lifted by their captain’s leveller, and looked to push forward in search of an unlikely winner in the final five minutes. Victor Obinna almost obliged, but his curling effort from outside the area flew wide of Begovic’s goal.
The striker had another chance to make himself a hero deep into injury time, but he struck his free-kick against the ball in the last meaningful effort of normal time.
West Ham started the brighter of the two teams in extra time and they were rewarded for their efforts after Manuel Da Costa fired past Begovic on 95 minutes. A short corner from Victor Obinna found its way to Mark Noble, and the midfielder produced a brilliant run to lay the ball on a plate for Da Costa to drill low into the centre of the Stoke goal.
Da Costa’s goal seemed to take the wind out of Stoke’s sails with the home side looking the more likely to add to their lead as Tony Pulis’ side started to look increasingly desperate going forward.
Despite Pablo Barrera and Julien Faubert effectively being reduced to passengers in the second period of extra time through a combination of injury and fatigue, West Ham managed to kill Stoke off on the break.
Victor Obinna broke away from the Stoke defence and fired the ball past Begovic low into the bottom right hand corner of the goal to secure the Hammers place in the Carling Cup quarter final.
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