West Ham V Middlesbrough

Post Match Comments
Audio Match ReportSaturday 2nd December 2000
Upton Park
Referee: Andy D'Urso

West Ham climbed to sixth position in the Premiership, but it was victory at a price. The win was overshadowed by the news that Igor Stimac went off just before half time injured. Harry confirmed:

"Igor has done his calf and it is likely he will be out for a while."

Indeed, the news regarding the West Ham defence is not looking too bright as Harry continued:

"I am short on defenders. Ian Pearce has a hamstring, I've sold Rio, Winterburn is suspended for the next game and Song will be in Africa at his mother's funeral. It's going to be a difficult day against Villa next Saturday."

Harry, however, was very pleased with Song's performance today saying:

"I thought Song was superb. He played with so much enthusiasm, he headed it, he tackled well and wants to win. He's a great lad with a marvellous attitude. He was very low the other day. He made a mistake with positional play where he covered round much too much and he was very upset about it after the game but he cares. And if you've got people who care then you have a real chance."

Again, Harry sang Stuart Pearce's praise saying:

"Look at his performance again today. Where do you find a Stuart Pearce? What would England give to have a 19 year old Pearce."

Frank Lampard was also substituted after his clash with Trevor Sinclair and Harry confirmed:

"Frank had an almighty smack in the mouth and he's had lots of stitches in his gum and it went right through his lip, it's a real mess."

Paolo di Canio, who was captain for the day, heaped more misery on struggling Middlesbrough with a stunning first-half strike that put West Ham on the road to victory at Upton Park.

The Italian received Frank Lampard's pass on 44 minutes, cut inside Neville Stamp, and fired an unstoppable shot with his right foot that flew past goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer into the bottom corner.

Robson must have thought his days as Boro boss were over when his job was offered to Terry Venables earlier this week, but the former England manager's decision to continue as a television pundit gave Robson another chance to save his neck.

But his side to let him done again as they failed to respond to di Canio's eighth goal of the season. Boro have now gone nine games without a win and their display in this encounter gave no sign of a turn around and little hope for Robson to remain as manager.

West Ham's win was fully deserved as they made all the running in the match against Robson's demoralised side. They could have taken the lead after eight minutes when Trevor Sinclair and Lampard combined to set up Frenchman Kaba Diawara who flashed a shot just wide from the edge of the area.

Then, on 12 minutes defender Igor Stimac released Sinclair with a quickly taken free-kick but with only the keeper to beat the winger shot wide.

As the Hammers probed Middlesbrough's shaky defence di Canio tried his luck from 25 yards but his shot went straight at Schwarzer and Frederic Kanoute tested the Aussie keeper with another drive from the edge of the area.

Middlesbrough's only decent chance of the opening period came on 25 minutes when Brian Deane forced a brilliant save from Shaka Hislop with a towering header from Noel Whelan's corner.

But after taking the lead with di Canio's wonder-strike West Ham lost Lampard on the stroke of half-time following a collision with team-mate Sinclair. Blood poured from both player's heads and Lampard was unable to continue.

The 22-year-old was replaced by John Moncur and the substitute's first act was to commit a horrendous tackle on Boro captain Paul Ince as he slid in from behind and earn himself a yellow card on 46 minutes.

The Hammers struggled to break down the visitors defence in the second half but Diawara, Kanoute, and Michael Carrick failed to convert good chances to put the game out of Boro's reach.

Middlesbrough lost all hope of a comeback when they were reduced to 10 men after defender Ugo Ehiogu was sent off for a second yellow card on 85 minutes after dragging down di Canio as he surged forward on the counter attack.

Diawara thought he has made it 2-0 in stoppage time, but his header was ruled out for offside and at the final whistle di Canio's goal proved enough to move Harry Redknapp's side into the top six in the Premier League, while Boro's torrid time in the relegation zone continues