Hammers nail Hull

West Ham United extended their unbeaten run to seven matches with a thoroughly convincing 2-0 win over Hull City.

The last time the Tigers visited the Boleyn Ground, in October 1990, they were tamed to the tune of a 7-1 humbling. The scoreline could have been equally one-sided this time around had it not been for the heroics of Hull goalkeeper Matt Duke. Instead, Gianfranco Zola's men had to make do with just the two goals scored by David Di Michele and Carlton Cole and were further boosted by a five-minute cameo from new signing Savio at the end.

Zola made two changes to the side that beat Hartlepool United 2-0 in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday. Captain Lucas Neill and England defender Matthew Upson were recalled in place of Julien Faubert and James Tomkins. New signing Savio, who has arrived from Italian side Brescia Calcio, was among the substitutes after receiving international clearance earlier in the day.

Hull boss Phil Brown named former Hammer Richard Garcia - an FA Youth Cup winner in 1998/99 - in his starting eleven, while fellow ex-United midfielder Jimmy Bullard was among the substitutes after making a £5m switch from Fulham.

After making an uncharacteristically tentative start, United were irresistible for long stretches of a thrilling 90 minutes. Aside from the goals, the Hammers rattled the Hull woodwork no fewer than four times, while Mark Noble also saw his penalty superbly saved by Premier League debutant and former team-mate Matt Duke.

After a fairly even opening, during which Robert Green was forced into action by both Manucho and Geovanni, West Ham United discovered their trademark passing rhythm and set about sending the Tigers spiralling to a sixth straight Premier League defeat with a scintillating display of pass-and-move football.

Having gone close through Valon Behrami's long-range shot and James Collins' header, the Hammers came within a lick of paint of going ahead after 15 minutes. Noble's corner was half-cleared back to the midfielder, who found Di Michele on the corner of the penalty area, only for the Italian's exquisite curler to bounce off the post and behind Duke to safety.

The home side passed up another fantastic opportunity on 22 minutes when, for the fourth time in five matches, the Hammers were awarded a penalty. Cole was impeded by Sam Ricketts and, after taking a short time to consider his decision, policeman Howard Webb decided the laws of the game had been broken. Noble was unable to mete out the necessary punishment, however, as his well-struck spot-kick was brilliantly repelled by Duke - who he played alongside during a short loan spell at the KC Stadium in the spring of 2006.

Thankfully, Noble would make up for his miss ten minutes later. Di Michele had already worked Duke with a fizzing low drive before breaking the deadlock 13 minutes before half-time. The Italian tested the Premier League debutant with another strike which the goalkeeper could only push out to Noble. The England Under-21 man fed Cole and when Duke could only parry the striker's cross-shot, Di Michele was on hand - or rather, on knee - to divert the ball into the roof of the net from four yards.

Having gone ahead, Zola's men continued to press and could easily have gone further ahead, while Green also had to be alert to keep out weak efforts from Manucho and Daniel Cousin. At the other end, a sweeping move involving the front pair climaxed with Collison hitting the woodwork from close-range before Cole saw his powerful shot well saved by Duke.

Into the second half and United kept up the assault. Their dominance was finally rewarded with a second goal five minutes after the break, but not before Di Michele had hit the post for the third time. This time, however, the on-loan Torino man's half-volley ricocheted into the path of Cole, who netted for the fifth straight league match.

Brown responded by sending on Craig Fagan and Bullard - who received a welcome cheer - for Manucho and Geovanni. The move nearly paid off moments later when the Newham-born midfielder forced Green into a fine save from 25 yards. The chance appeared to spur Hull on, but they were unable to fashion a clear-cut opportunity to halve the Hammers' advantage.

Cole nearly doubled his tally with 20 minutes remaining, only for his left-foot shot to hit Michael Turner and spin a yard wide. Zola sent on Faubert for Collison and the Frenchman soon earned a corner from which Di Michele forced another excellent stop from the inspired Duke.

Cousin headed narrowly over soon afterwards, but Hull's cause was a forlorn one, a point proved when Duke had to pull off yet another good save to tip Noble's chip over the crossbar. Faubert then went close himself after latching on to Cole's backheel, only for the Hull goalkeeper to thwart the Hammers again.

Di Michele was given a well-earned rest - and a rousing reception - as time ticked away as Zola gave a debut to the Germany Under-20 international Savio. The youngster was quickly involved in the action, playing his part in a move that saw fellow substitute Luis Boa Morte fire narrowly wide in the final minute.

West Ham are unbeaten away from home since 29 October and, following another impressive home performance, will go to Arsenal on Saturday brimming with confidence.