Second half goals see Hammers through at Gillingham
Gillingham 0-2 West Ham United
Emirates FA Cup third round
Second half goals from the two Pablos, Zabaleta and Fornals, ensured safe passage for West Ham United in the Emirates FA Cup at Gillingham on Sunday.
The Hammers' duo struck in the final 16 minutes to settle the tie in Kent and end stern Gillingham resistance.
The hosts proved a tough nut to crack and gave as good as they got in the opening period, before West Ham took over after the break and eventually got their reward.
David Moyes showed that he was not taking his League One opponents lightly, by making only three changes to the side which defeated AFC Bournemouth in midweek.
And the Gills proved they were a force to be reckoned with by getting on the press early and putting their visitors under pressure.
They stifled the Hammers in the opening period and limited their threat effectively, while asking a couple of questions of their own at the other end.
West Ham had 68 percent of the ball in the opening 45 minutes, but Gillingham won five corners, and nearly scored from one of them in the 22nd minute, but Lukasz Fabianski made himself big to block from Brandon Hanlan at the near post.
In truth, that was the only real save either goalkeeper had to make before the break, but West Ham started the second half at pace and were unfortunate not to take the lead twice inside its first five minutes.
First, Felipe Anderson slipped Sebastien Haller through, only for the ball to take a bobble as the Frenchman lined up the shot and the ball flew over the bar.
Then, Haller was denied only by the near post when he took on a chance from a tight angle and saw the ball strike the upright and bounce away to safety.
Midway through the half, Declan Rice wanted a penalty when he felt he was being tugged back in trying to reach a Robert Snodgrass free-kick. Referee Andrew Madley disagreed.
When the breakthrough finally arrived 16 minutes from time, it came from the unlikely source of Zabaleta. The Argentine has waited two-and-a-half years and 75 games to notch in Claret & Blue, but he made the most of the opportunity to smash home from ten yards after Arthur Masuaku's low cross was touched on by Fornals.
Fornals then got in on the act to wrap it up at the death, shooting low into the bottom right hand corner to complete a swift counter-attack after being teed up by Felipe Anderson.
Gillingham: Bonham, Fuller (Ndjoli 86), Ehmer, Tucker, Ogilvie, Jones, O’Keefe, O’Connor (Marshall 79(, Lee, Jakubiak (Charles-Cook 79(, Hanlan
Subs: Walsh, Hodson, Willock, Pringle
West Ham United: Fabianski, Fredericks (Zabaleta 43), Balbuena, Diop, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Snodgrass (Fornals 70), Rice, Lanzini, Felipe Anderson (Sanchez 90+5), Haller
Subs: Roberto, Reid, Holland, Ajeti
Goals: Zabaleta 74, Fornals 90+4
Referee: Andrew Madley