Zola hails team display

Gianfranco Zola praised the "best ever" performance from his West Ham United team as a determined performance helped them to a 0-0 draw with leaaders Liverpool.

The manager saw Robert Green make a trio of outstanding saves and Craig Bellamy come within a whisker of winning the game at the other end when his 25-yard drive came back off the inside of the post.

"I think it was the best team performance since I came here," Zola said. "We struggled a bit the first ten minutes because we had problems picking up players in midfield, but once we found the right solutions we looked so comfortable. But what I liked especially, we tried to face them and match them in everything they did. For a manager that is the best response."

Zola was again delighted with his goalkeeper as his heroics ensured a third straight clean sheet. Green was one of a number of impressive performers at Anfield, with his breathtaking save from Yossi Benayoun eleven minutes into the second half the pick of his contributions.

The West Ham United manager said: "It was a very good save. He looks very comfortable right now and I'm very pleased for him as he's had some stick and now he is getting what he deserves. He works very hard during the week and he's performing very well so I'm pleased.

"Another clean sheet is very good and right now the defence is excellent and is working very hard as a group and the goalkeeper has been outstanding as well. When you keep a clean sheet it's not only down the defence, everyone is doing a great job so we are getting results."

The visiting players fought right until referee Peter Walton blew the full-time whistle to signal euphoric cheers from the noisy away support late on Monday night. The level of fitness shown by his team was no coincidence, however, according to their manager.

"I think the players were fitter. I want to congratulate my fitness coach [Antonio Pintus] because today and also last week you can see that the team is not stopping in the last twenty minutes as it they were at the beginning. They are lasting more and their sharpness is much better. So it is very encouraging for me."

One of those tireless runners was Wales captain Bellamy. Playing alongside Carlton Cole in attack, the No10 harried and hustled the home defence relentlessly, much to his manager's delight. "He had an awesome performance, I think he was very unlucky to not have a goal but I like him because he is a threat going forward but he helped the midfield, running and chasing everybody.

"I think he had something to prove but he does it all the time and with a better condition as I expect he will be more effective going forward. I'm looking forward to seeing him play the next game, I'm sure it's going to be a huge match for him."

The manager feels that after nearly three months at the club his ideas are starting to show in his team's play and attitude. "When I first came over here I was trying to improve the quality of the game and to try to get the players to play a more offensive game but we found out we needed to improve defensively and that is what we are trying to do. The team is responding very well to what me and my staff are saying to them. They are keen to react and follow what they are saying and that gives me hope for the future."

The squad will take a well-deserved day off on Tuesday before reporting back on Wednesday to being preparations for the London derby against Tottenham Hotspur next Monday and Zola is determined to put the time to good use. He said: "We've got a week so we're going to try to use it to put the game properly because it is going to be a tough match.

"My players are certainly going through a good moment but we are going to make sure we are not going to lose the momentum. It took a long time to get it on our side but now we want to keep it as long as possible. But we are going to use the week to prepare for as long as possible."