Hammers finish on a high

Beijing Guoan 0-2 West Ham United

Danny Gabbidon and Zavon Hines struck to ensure West Ham United secured third place at the Barclays Asia Trophy with a 2-0 win over Beijing Guoan.

Gabbidon rose highest to meet Mark Noble's corner ten minutes from time before substitute Hines added a second at the death to give a much-improved West Ham a deserved victory at the Workers Stadium.

Gianfranco Zola made five changes to the team that narrowly lost 1-0 to Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-finals on Wednesday. Jonathan Spector, James Tomkins, Noble and Scott Parker, who was handed the captain's armband, all made their first starts of the pre-season, while Gabbidon came back into the starting XI. Matthew Upson, James Collins, Julien Faubert, injury-victim Luis Boa Morte and Junior Stanislas made way.

Beijing, who sit top of the Chinese Super League, had already sent a squad of 13 players away for their Sunday Chinese Super League game in Chonqing, and named an entirely new side for the match from the one beaten by Hull City in the semi-finals.

Before the action got underway at the Workers Stadium a minute's silence was held in memory of Sir Bobby Robson, who passed away on Friday morning after a long battle with cancer. Both teams wore black armbands as a mark of respect for the former England manager and no doubt the silence would have been particularly poignant for Dyer, who played under Robson for five years at Newcastle United.

After a couple of long-range efforts from Beijing in the opening five minutes, the visitors began to stamp their authority on the game. A neat passing move involving Herita Ilunga, Parker and Dyer saw the latter try to flick a ball on for Ilunga to chase. The covering defender could only bring the DR Congo left-back down and Luis Jimenez came close to registering his first goal for his new club with a powerful, curling free-kick that Zhang Sipeng held at the second attempt.

Once West Ham had found their feet, Beijing rarely troubled Robert Green in the West Ham goal and only had two real chances in the opening half. The first, a half-chance that Paulo Vogt blasted over, fell on 20 minutes, while the second was a low drive from Wang Ke that Green got down quickly to gather.

After several marginal offside decisions went against them, West Ham thought they had taken the lead four minutes before half time when Dyer slotted the ball inside the far post from Collison's pass. However, once more the referee's assistant's flag was raised to deny the visitors.

Beijing made two changes at the break with Victor coming on up front and Li Tixiang entering the fray in midfield.

In the warm and sticky conditions the Hammers toiled after the break but once again forced themselves onto their opponents and enjoyed much of the ball in the opening exchanges. With Dyer getting forward in support of Cole, West Ham carried the far greater threat, although they did have to survive a minor scare when Wang looped a long-range volley narrowly over the bar seven minutes after the re-start.

Five minutes later and another promising burst forward by Dyer won West Ham a corner as they sought to turn the screw on their hosts. Guoan's cause was not helped by an injury to Park, who was replaced by Lang Zheng, while captain Sui and Wang went off for Kou and Sun Kaj. Zola made his first change with Bondz 'Gala coming at left back for Herita Ilunga.

Understandably, the rhythm of the game suffered slightly as a result of the changes, but West Ham continued to have the better of the possession with Dyer and Collison on either flank looking particularly threatening.

The Londoners' move of the match came on 69 minutes when Noble's ball forward was flicked into Dyer's path by Cole. The winger returned the favour by laying the ball back into the England forward's path, only for the striker to be denied the opening goal by a last-ditch tackle.

Junior Stanislas was introduced in place of Collison to add yet more pace to West Ham's attack and the England Under-20 international almost made his mark from Noble's pass, but his shot is deflected wide. Zola then made two further changes with Zavon Hines and Josh Payne coming on for Jimenez and Parker.

Zola's side finally got their reward ten minutes from the end as Gabbidon muscled himself away from his marker to meet Noble's flighted corner and direct a header past Sipeng.

Having missed 18 months through injury, the Wales defender's goal was met with a huge outpouring of celebration from his team-mates. It was a fitting way to mark the former Hammer of the Year's return to action.

Savio and Jordan Spence were the final changes for West Ham in place of the superb Dyer and industrious Noble, but it was another substitute, Hines, who was to have the final say. The Jamaican, who had already seen a snap-shot saved by the goalkeeper, raced onto a through-ball and finished neatly with his left foot through Sipeng's legs.

After the frustration of losing to Tottenham Hotspur in Wednesday's semi-final, West Ham's performance, particularly in the second half, will have given Zola and the fans who have travelled over from the UK real optimism ahead of the start of the Barclays Premier League season on 15 August.