Zola hails great Scott

Gianfranco Zola could not hide his elation on Saturday night as he reflected on his side securing a 3-2 victory against Wigan Athletic that has done their survival hopes the power of good.

Scott Parker's second-half stunner was a rich reward for yet another man of the match display at the heart of the midfield, but he had able support from Mark Noble, Radoslav Kovac and Valon Behrami. However, it was Parker - who had made a beeline for his manager after the ball hit the net - who rightly got the post-match plaudits.

"You can't imagine how happy I was," he said. "You could see from my jumping, I looked like a supporter. It was a great finish. It wasn't an easy shot because he didn't have an angle. He was running straight and he hit it perfectly. It was great goal and a great result."

Of the goal celebration which saw him mobbed yet again by his men, Zola added: "It was very gratifying. It shows that despite all the problems, we have always been together. We have had a lot of stick and a lot of problems but we have dealt with them together.

"It was never my intention to leave this place [after the Stoke defeat] and this situation that we were in. I was just down with the situation as was everybody. In those moments, I felt the players behind me and feeling that fighting spirit that has made a difference, not only for me but for them as well."

It was Parker's first game back after a two-match suspension and Zola said the enforced break may have played a part in his ability to finish the contest as strongly as he had started. "Maybe the rest helped, although somebody like Scott you want all the time on the pitch. The fact he had those games off might have helped him give something extra in the second half."

Robert Green also earned praise, having produced a world-class stop at one-nil down that led to the Hammers going up the other end and equalising in the first half through Ilan. "The save from Robert was the key moment. Going down 2-0 against Wigan would have been a difficult situation for us considering all the pressure there was on this game.

"That wasn't the case. The reaction was amazing and that is the difference here. We were losing and we never let ourselves down. Carlton Cole also did a great job for the first goal and then Ilan followed for him the pass and scored a very good goal. I was delighted with Carlton's contribution."

Radoslav Kovac then nodded the home side in front just before the break after Mark Noble's free-kick was saved but there was a nervy start to the second half that culminated in Wigan fighting back to draw level. Yet Zola's men refused to give in and he commended Matthew Upson for keeping things together at a difficult moment with a "solid and good performance".

Although Barclays Premier League survival has inched closer - all at the club will no doubt keep a close eye on Burnley's match with Liverpool on Sunday - the manager is keeping his feet on the ground. "We can't celebrate yet. It has been a season where everything has happened. We need to keep focused and we want to finish this championship with some more points."

To achieve that aim, Zola's men must go for a win at Fulham next Sunday. They will no doubt receive plenty of backing from the travelling support. "The fans felt a lot of pressure, they were nervous and the way we started the game didn't help. It is OK, they have always been behind us.

"I want to underline [my thanks for] the fans that come to the away matches. We didn't give them much this year but they have always been there and always been the loudest. For me they deserve a big applause. I am delighted for them, they have a lot of passion."