West Ham United 2-0 Cardiff City
Barclays Premier League
West Ham United got the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League campaign off to a winning start as goals in each half from Joe Cole and Kevin Nolan saw off the challenge of newly-promoted Cardiff City at the Boleyn Ground.
Any momentum the Championship winners may have carried into the opening game of the new season was quashed by Cole's 13th minute opener, as he produced an accurate finish following a Matt Jarvis burst down the left.
Nolan's strike 14 minutes from the end confirmed victory, as he matched his first day goal from last year with a right-footed shot from 15 yards.
Cardiff were rarely able to build a head of steam to seriously threaten their hosts and the sell-out 34,977 crowd were able to celebrate the perfect beginning to the new season.
The anticipation inside the Boleyn Ground was palpable as Bubbles rung round the stadium for the first time since May, although it was Cardiff who had the first real opportunity of the afternoon when they broke quickly on the Hammers defence with ten minutes on the clock.
Kim Bo-Kyung had acres of space to advance into, and with James Collins and Winston Reid backing off, forced in part by Fraizer Campbell's menacing run, the Korean was able to take the shot on from outside the box. He could not hit the target, however, and West Ham breathed a sigh of relief.
That sigh turned to cheers three minutes later as the home side swept into the lead. Matt Jarvis was the goal's architect, getting the better of Matt Connolly down the left before cutting a low cross back for Cole to stop dead with his first touch, swivel and knock into the bottom right hand corner with his second.
It was the perfect start to the game for the Hammers and it could have got better on 20 minutes when Cole found himself in the clear on the edge of the box. With goalkeeper David Marshall off his line, a chipped effort appeared on, but the West Ham man could only guide the ball into the stopper's hands.
Eight minutes before the interval it was West Ham's turn to threaten again as Mohamed Diame cut in from the left and unleashed a right-footed shot which flew off Connolly's chest and looked destined to beat a helpless Marshall inside his left hand post, but just deviated in its flight to pass wide.
Cardiff had barely managed to breach the Hammers backline to enter the danger area, although Nolan did show good awareness to charge out from the edge of the box and block a Fraizer Campbell effort.
As the second half started West Ham would have believed a cushion of a second would prove sufficient to go on to claim the points.
Jarvis looked to provide it when Mark Noble's fine diagonal ball picked out Jarvis. He looked to run at his man and enter the box, and with no support forthcoming, went for the shot himself, which flew wide.
Cardiff were beginning to enjoy a little more territory but they could not make anything of it, and manager Malky Mackay summed up their frustrations with his reaction to Peter Whittingham's wasteful 25-yard shot, which was dragged well wide of the mark.
Just after the hour, they were reliant on a fine save from Marshall for keeping them in it, as he got down brilliantly to his left to tip Modibo Maiga's angled drive around the post.
Fourteen minutes from the end, however, he was powerless to prevent Nolan from sealing victory, as last year's top goalscorer opened his account for 2013/14 with a swept finish into the top left hand corner after Noble used Maiga's decoy run to cleverly advance into the box and lay off to the skipper.
Nicky Maynard fired over from close range as Cardiff looked to set up a grandstand finish, but West Ham had done more than enough to ensure a fruitful start to the campaign,
West Ham United: Jaaskelainen; Demel, Collins, Reid, O'Brien; Diame (Diarra 82), Noble, Nolan; Cole (Vaz Te 90), Maiga, Jarvis (Downing 71)
Subs: Adrian (GK), Tomkins, Rat, Morrison
Goals: Cole 13, Nolan 76
Cardiff City: Marshall; Connolly, Caulker, Turner, John; Gunnarsson, Medel; Bellamy (Gestede 74), Bo-Kyung (Maynard 74), Whittingham; Campbell (Mutch 90)
Subs: Lewis (GK), Hudson, Smith, Cowie