West Ham 4-0 Man Utd
Holders Manchester United were sent crashing out of the Carling Cup as West Ham unleashed a shock 4-0 victory at Upton Park on Tuesday night.
Avram Grant's side put their Premier League woes aside for the evening as their commanding triumph booked them a spot in the semi-finals and condemned league leaders United to their first defeat in all competitions since April.
A snowy night in East London saw some remarkable individual displays from the Hammers, with Jonathan Spector and Carlton Cole doing the damage for the hosts with two goals apiece.
Former United man Spector, stepping in for benched captain Scott Parker in midfield, got the hosts' assault going as he notched a first-half brace to put the home side 2-0 up at the break.
And it fell to striker Cole to pick up where the American left off in the second half as he netted a double of his own, capitalising on some superb work from Victor Obinna to seal the decisive triumph.
Sir Alex Ferguson made 10 changes to the side that hammered Blackburn last weekend with only Anderson remaining, but the manner of this defeat will still prove difficult to stomach.
Experience was supplied by the likes of Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher and John O'Shea, but they also wilted in the face of West Ham's onslaught.
Those who had braved the arctic conditions at a near-sold-out Upton Park enjoyed a night of high drama, the benefit of which could be felt in the Hammers' Premier League survival bid.
Manager Avram Grant has proved something of a cup specialist, but while he will be delighted to see his side through to the semi-finals, he will be just as pleased at having strung together successive victories that could inspire a climb up the table.
Wigan were dispatched 3-1 last weekend, but Grant made six changes with captain Parker on the bench despite suffering from a chest infection.
There was little sign of the carnage to come early on when the holders were denied the lead by the woodwork with Robert Green showing lightning reflexes to push Gabriel Obertan's shot on to the post.
Anderson expertly picked out Giggs, but the Welsh winger's delivery into the box was poor and the ball looped away harmlessly.
Controversy reigned in the 16th minute when West Ham scored through Obinna - only to have the goal ruled out for offside.
Obinna's shot deflected off Spector and the linesman had made the correct decision, but the Hammers were incensed.
Players queued up to demonstrate with referee Mark Clattenburg, who then warned Grant after the Israeli hurled the ball away in disgust after it had gone out of bounds.
Any sense of injustice was soon remedied, however, when Spector nodded West Ham ahead.
Obinna supplied an exquisite chip that Spector, having crept inside Fletcher, headed into the net.
Emboldened by their goal, West Ham attacked with greater conviction, but were almost caught by a United counter-attack that ended with a tame header from Obertan.
Cole nearly got the better of Fabio before James Tomkins angled a corner wide and in the 37th minute the home side's ascendancy was rewarded once more.
The hapless Fabio was involved as his attempted block of Obinna's shot instead fell into the path of Spector, who blasted home from close range.
A header from Bebe was easily saved by Green, but most of the action continued to take place at the other end.
A dreadful blunder from Green, who until now had looked rock-solid, almost let United in, with his clearance hitting the back of Federico Macheda.
The ball deflected into the path of Javier Hernandez, but reinforcements arrived for the Hammers to clear the danger in the nick of time.
United were pouring forward as the expected fightback began in earnest, only to be halted in their tracks in the 55th minute when they were caught on the break.
The superb Obinna was the supplier as his inch-perfect cross was met by Cole, who headed the ball home.
There was still more to come from West Ham, however, as little over 10 minutes later Cole slammed home his second after being set up by Obinna.
Zavon Hines had a strong penalty shout rejected by Clattenburg after being shoved in the back by O'Shea, but West Ham had the result wrapped up long ago.
Latest Forum Comments
To be fair to West Ham they came out and attacked us and deserved to win (Boa Morte's repeated assaults on our players notwithstanding) but we were poor. Evans seems to have completely lost his way at the moment. For the last couple of seasons he's been a pretty steady performer when required but he has been directly to blame for several goals this season, and we just don't look the same with him at the back. Admittedly its probably unfair to compare him to Rio and Vidic but the least you expect is concentration and challenging for the ball - not just allowing opposition attackers complete freedom in the box. Hopefully he'll get his head together soon, but in the meantime, at least Smalling seems to have settled in well...- fenwar
We were bad all round but Evans and Fabio were particularly rubbish last night.- Munsterman
Ahem. That wasn't very good.- Neil
Current Premiership Table