Zola hails Zavon

Gianfranco Zola hailed match-winner Zavon Hines after the England Under-21 striker fired West Ham United to a 2-1 Barclays Premier League victory over Aston Villa.

Hines, who turns 21 in December, showed all the composure of a veteran to steer a 94th-minute winner past 38-year-old goalkeeper Brad Friedel, securing the hosts' first home league win of 2009/10.

Earlier, Mark Noble had put the Hammers ahead with a penalty in first-half added time before Robert Green kept out Ashley Young's spot-kick five minutes after the break.

The England winger got his own back two minutes later, curling in an unstoppable long-range effort, only for Hines to steal the show with his dramatic late winner.

Manager Zola heaped praise on his young charge, saying: "Zavon was good, but the boy, every time he plays, has been very, very good. My congratulations go to him. He is on the right way. He just needs to keep working.

"He gave us a fantastic victory and we are all very, very pleased for him and for us.

"I would have been very delighted [with his goal]. I think it was a very good goal. He kept his composure in the middle of three defenders and he finished brilliantly, which is very good. The boy deserves the spotlight."

When asked if he feared Hines would struggle to cope with the pressure after replacing the injured Carlton Cole, Zola said he was always confident the Jamaica-born player would rise to the occasion.

"I think maybe before it would have been the case but Zavon Hines has been coming on and playing regularly. He played against Liverpool, which was a big game, and he's done brilliantly.

"He's played other games and he's done very well, so it's not a surprise any more. He's shown a lot of character and personality. Sometimes it can be the other way, but I don't think it's the case with Zavon Hines."

Another player who rose to the occasion was goalkeeper Green, who showed his pedigree to watching England manager Fabio Capello with a superb display highlighted by world-class saves from Young and Stiliyan Petrov.

"It was a brilliant save [from the penalty]. He has made a couple of saves that were saves from the No1 national-team player. I was delighted for him. He deserved a day like that."

Zola, who confirmed first-half hamstring injuries suffered by Cole and Herita Ilunga "don't look very serious", said he hoped the win would help to kick-start the Hammers' campaign.

Victory over Everton at the Boleyn Ground on Sunday could see West Ham move into mid-table, and the manager insisted his players would be going all out to earn another three points against the Toffees.

"We said that the team is playing better and we said that a few games ago. It could well be. We gave a demonstration of desire and belief and that is really what we want. Everything else is there. It was a fantastic game to win and could well be a turning point."

"There's a long way to go this season, but the team is alive and wants to react to the situation.

"We're ready to react and we will do that. This was a good display of that. We have to keep working because this is one step. Sunday we have another great game to play and we need another big performance to win the game."