Sakho helps Hammers past Hoops

Barclays Premier League
West Ham United 2-0 Queens Park Rangers 

West Ham United eased to a second successive Barclays Premier League victory at the Boleyn Ground, as a goal in either half proved plenty to see off newly-promoted Queens Park Rangers on Sunday afternoon.  

Just as they did against Liverpool a fortnight ago, West Ham struck early here, when Nedum Onuoha shinned Stewart Downing's fifth-minute corner into his own net.

Though Charlie Austin twice went close for the visitors, the in-form Diafra Sakho effectively settled the contest shortly before the hour mark, applying the final touch to James Tomkins' looping effort. Victory and a first clean sheet of the campaign propels the Hammers up to seventh, ahead of a trip to Turf Moor in a fortnight's time.   

West Ham showed two changes to the side that so nearly snatched a point at Old Trafford, with Diego Poyet making way for Mauro Zarate and Carl Jenkinson in for the sidelined Guy Demel. As for the R's, former Hammers Robert Green and Rio Ferdinand, making his 500th Premier League appearance, both started, while Bobby Zamora had to make do with a spot on the bench.

This wasn't quite a fast start of Liverpool proportions, but Sam Allardyce's men are getting into the very helpful habit of scoring early at the Boleyn Ground. On this occasion, it took less than five minutes to break Rangers' resistance. Stewart Downing's right-wing corner was allowed to travel all the way to the far post, where a flat-footed Onuoha was helpless in preventing the ball crash off his shins and past an unmoved Green. Though several in Claret and Blue were quick to congratulate the lurking Diafra Sakho, he won't be claiming this one.

By now, West Ham looked to be in the mood and Morgan Amalfitano volleyed an eye-catching ball into the middle, forcing Green to come racing off his line and smother. Sakho meanwhile, as West Ham have come to expect, was a livewire once more and squared up Rio Ferdinand on the left-hand side of the box. His centre clipped the inside of the defender's legs, taking it just behind the run of Valencia, who could only divert wide of the near post. 

At the other end, the Hoops' best chance of the half fell to Charlie Austin and was much of his own making. The visitors' No9 shrugged off James Tomkins' challenge and, in a bid to find the far post, was foiled by Adrian as he plunged low to his left and did well to cling on.

Play-Off specialist Zamora replaced the anonymous Junior Hoilett at half-time and almost provided the ammunition for a Rangers equaliser within two minutes of his arrival. The once Brighton & Hove Albion man squared for Austin, who, under considerable pressure from a scrambling Tomkins, stabbed wide of Adrian's right-hand upright.

It was the first sign of a mini Rangers revival, with Harry Redknapp's men enjoying rather more possession than they had done before the interval. But thankfully it was short lived, Sakho made sure of that.

As the hour approached, Zarate's snap shot ballooned up off the boot of Leroy Fer and into the path of Tomkins. The Basildon-born defender hooked it goalward, over Green's head, and though it was likely sneaking in anyway, Sakho buried the header from under the crossbar to double the Hammers' advantage.

Seconds later and West Ham had the ball in the net for a third time, though not to referee Anthony Taylor's liking. Green casually rolled a free-kick in the direction of Ferdinand, one that Valencia all too easily intercepted. The Ecuadorian gratefully slotted home, but had not been ten yards away, said the officials, and 2-0 it remained.

Niko Kranjcar sought to respond for the Hoops and his free-kick bounced awkwardly in front of Adrian, making the Spaniard's save a better one that it perhaps appeared. Adel Taarabt was introduced late on and the enigmatic Moroccan had Adrian worried as he blasted narrowly wide from 25 yards.

But the Hammers went close again themselves, with Downing teeing up Nolan, whose side-footed strike from 12 yards was well fielded by Green. It was, however, merely incidental, as West Ham saw out the final few moments to record a third success of the campaign.     

West Ham United: Adrian, Jenkinson, Tomkins, Reid, Cresswell, Song (c), Amalfitano, Downing, Zarate (Nolan 76), Sakho, Valencia (84)
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Burke, Poyet, Lee, Cole

Goals: Onuoha (og) 5, Sakho 59   

Tomkins, Song, Cresswell 

Queens Park Rangers: Green, Onuoha, Ferdinand (c), Caulker, Traore, Sandro (Taarabt 67), Henry, Fer, Hoilett (Zamora 46), Kranjcar (Mutch 78), Austin
Subs: McCarthy, Isla, Mutch, Dunne, Vargas

Booked: Sandro, Henry