Portsmouth downed again

West Ham United 2-0 Portsmouth

West Ham United secured their second consecutive Boxing Day victory over Portsmouth to move out of the bottom three of the Barclays Premier League.

Alessandro Diamanti's penalty - the third game in a row in which he has scored - and a Radoslav Kovac header were enough to win the match and deliver a belated Christmas present to the Hammers fans among the 33,686 crowd.

With so much at stake, unsurprisingly, the game was an intense if not slightly scrappy affair punctuated by flashes of individual brilliance. Diamanti and his fellow Serie A summer arrival Luis Jimenez, on for early hamstring victim Mark Noble, provided much of this attacking flair for the hosts. There was also the welcome sight of a late return for Valon Behrami - all of which looks good for Monday's trip to Tottenham Hotspur.

It was Jimenez and Diamanti that combined forces to conjure up West Ham's opener as a slick passing move down the left saw Jimenez tripped in the area by Michael Brown. And just as he had done against Chelsea last week, Diamanti placed the spot-kick hard and low into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

Portsmouth rarely threatened in the first half, with just a harmless Tal Ben-Haim shot their only chance of note.

With the other teams around them either playing later on the day or on 27 December, both sets of players knew a victory could provide them with an early start on their competitors. At times the tensions got a little too much with referee Lee Probert issuing yellow cards to Aruna Dindane and Michael Brown - both for fouls on the imperious Scott Parker - before the first half was out.

The second period carried on in the same vein and only a truly outstanding save from Asmir Begovic kept the visitors within touching distance of their hosts. The Portsmouth stopper had to dive at full stretch to tip Diamanti's deflected drive over the crossbar.

It was to be the hosts' best effort for 20 minutes as the visitors started to show the form that had helped them to a 2-0 victory over Liverpool last time out.

Robert Green demonstrated quick feet and thinking to dive and claim from Frederic Piquionne. Shortly after a diving save thwarted the French forward in Portsmouth's best moment of the game.

In between those chances Gianfranco Zola had brought on the fit-again Behrami as he looked to consolidate his side's position. The change seemed to work as both the Hammers and the claret and blue faithful backing stepped up a grear.

Jack Collison ensured the nails would be bitten right until the end when he shot too close to Begovic when placed before Kovac fired over from 25 yards. The Czech international would not have to wait from his first goal of the season and second in West Ham colours as he rose to meet Jimenez's right-wing free-kick to thump a header home in front of an ecstatic Bobby Moore Stand.

The win moved the Hammers out of the bottom three, and - along with the first clean sheet since August - will provide a huge shot of confidence ahead of the big derby with Tottenham in two days' time.