Zola rues missed opportunity

"We are not down, just upset," was the message from Gianfranco Zola after the high-octane 2-2 draw at Sunderland on Saturday.

West Ham United were two goals up before half-time through Guille Franco and Carlton Cole before Sunderland did what the Hammers had done the previous week to Arsenal by producing a stirring comeback to end the game all-square. To add to the drama, the home side had Kenwyne Jones dismissed just before the break, while Radoslav Kovac was shown a red card late on for two bookings.

West Ham's superiority was such in the first half that Zola felt his side should have been leaving the north-east club, who were looking for their fifth straight home win, with all three points. Instead Andy Reid and Kieran Richardson were able to propel Sunderland back into the contest.

"For me when the team plays like that we should come out with a victory," Zola said. "Their comeback was an easy situation like it was last week for us.

"It was remarkable the fighting spirit that they had and the desire to come back but we have to be a little more cynical when situations like that as in my opinion the game was finished.

The manner of Sunderland's comeback, after West Ham had looked in control at the break understandably left Zola frustrated, and he is expecting to see the fighting spirit shown last week against Arsenal when his squad play host to Aston Villa on Wednesday evening.

"There have been other moments when we are feeling down but this is not the case. We are upset about what happened but it won't happen again.

"It's not a matter of being ten or eleven men. You have to be a little more under control and we lost it a little bit. That is why we are here with one point and not three points. We lost control of the game and I cannot tolerate that."

Kovac's red card was the second time in a week that a West Ham player has been dismissed for two cautions and Zola feels that the Czech international may have been slightly hard done by in this situation.

"Kovac was kicking the ball and [Darren] Bent was coming from behind so he didn't see him. You can have a look on the video and confirm my words. It is the second time we have a man sent off and he didn't deserve it. But it is OK - I want to make it clear that it is not a complaint about the referee.

A win this midweek would take the Hammers out of the bottom three and the league standings are certainly not causing Zola too much concern. "I'm not anxious about the situation. I am upset as it is not the first time that we have the game in control and then leave the points behind."