A thrilled Gianfranco Zola paid tribute to his youngsters after they inspired West Ham United to a tremendous home victory against Manchester City.

With the likes of Robert Green, Lucas Neill, Matthew Upson and Scott Parker providing the experience to grind out the result, it was the manager's young charges who did the trick at the other end for a superb 1-0 win. It means the club are up to seventh place and can consolidate their hold on what might potential be a European qualification spot when they travel to Wigan on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old Jack Collison scored the winner late in the game after a superb shot by the 19-year-old Savio forced Shay Given to parry the ball into his path. Collison, a product of the club's youth system, has now registered three goals from 15 games this season while it was January recruit Savio's second assist in as many games at the Boleyn Ground.

Understandably the manager was delighted with their impact and the performance of the team as a whole. "It was really hard," he said. "It was a close game but I think we deserved a little bit more than them. It was good as it was a crucial and important game. We knew they had a very good team but we also knew that if we play as team as we have been it would be very difficult for them to beat us."

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It was Collison that provided the moment of magic with his superbly-taken goal, as he lofted the ball back beyond Given after the goalkeeper's initial save from Savio. Zola said his progress underlined that you do not always need to spend to find quality. "That is the beauty of football," he said. "Sometimes if you have passion, if you have belief you can be successful and I think Jack Collison is an example of all of that.

"Jack is unbelievable, he's getting better and better. He's 19 and he's playing nearly every week. He's got a very good attitude and he's going to get better and better. I feel very lucky to have him. Not only him but the other players. That's why i like the attitude here from not only him but the other players as well.

"I can play them in different positions. as long as you have the right mindset you can play wherever you want. I'm sure I could play Jack Collison up front or right at the back and he could produce good results for the team."

On Savio, Zola was equally effusive: "The boy came on today and did well. I'm pleased for him because he came here with a lot of expectation and to be honest he was a little bit under pressure because he knows people are waiting for something special from him.

"I'm pleased with how he is working and his attitude is good, he is going to be a successful player I'm sure. The next game, if he plays, I'm sure he will be even more effective. We bought him because he has something different, something that is sometimes missing in a game and today we saw a little bit of that. I'm sure there's still a lot to come from him."

While recent injuries to James Collins and Valon Behrami have reduced his selection options, Zola was clear that the policy of having a smaller squad and youthful reserve selection was the way forward for his West Ham United. That was summed up by the presence of the 18-year-old playmaker Josh Payne and tricky 19-year-old winger Junior Stanislas on the substitute's bench - with both tipped for bright futures.

"In the last few days we have been unlucky to pick up injuries which shortened the squad even more. That's the way we decided to go until the end of the season. If everybody keeps performing how we did today everybody is going to be all right. Plus there are a couple of interesting young players and I'm sure we will find space for them."