'It was a difficult task'

Fresh from signing a new four-year contract, Gianfranco Zola was pleased with his side's effort during the 1-0 defeat by UEFA Champions League semi-finalists Chelsea.

Salomon Kalou scored the only goal of the game goal ten minutes after half-time, but West Ham United had the majority of the best chances through Kieron Dyer, Diego Tristan and a saved Mark Noble penalty. With four games to go, the result leaves the club two points adrift of Fulham in seventh, who go to Chelsea next weekend when West Ham United travel to Stoke City.

Zola said: "I wouldn't say I was disappointed as that means I am disappointed towards my players. It's just that I knew it was a difficult task and we didn't play as well aand pass the ball as well as we did in other games, but it was a difficult task for my team."

"Some players who have not played throughout the season started to get a bit tired. So it was a difficult situation and I do understand it was difficult for the supporters because they were probably expecting more.

"I can't say anything to the players as they have all my appreciation and my respect because considering everything they have done exceptionally well."

West Ham passed up the chance to get back into the game when Noble's penalty was superbly saved by Petr Cech with 20 minutes to go. His manager was certainly not portioning any of the blame on the shoulder's of the 21-year-old, who has stepped up to dominate midfield in the absence of Valon Behrami, Jack Collison and Scott Parker.

"I think it was a good penalty. Unfortunately Petr Cech has made a great save as he did in the first half so nothing to say really. A penalty can always be seen as an easy task but I can tell you from experience it is not easy."

Kieron Dyer also impressed on his first start in more than 18 months. The England interntional started in a central midfield role alongside Noble before being withdrawn in a planned substitution on the hour mark.

"I think he did well considering the kind of match it was today. They had three players in midfield and they only had two and those three players were top players so he had to work harder. I'm pleased, he played for one hour and it was another step forward to a complete recovery.

"Kieron had a great chance and Diego Tristan, who played a very good match, played a great ball to him and he went with the left and Petr Cech was good in that occasion but it would have been a very good goal."