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West Ham get out of jail at Upton Park

ON TARGET: Ricardo Vaz Te of West Ham United

A SIX-goal thriller saw West Ham come back from 3-1 down against Birmingham City to grab a point as both sides look to return to the Premier League at the first attempt.

A rare Carlton Cole goal and a Ricardo Vaz Te penalty levelled the game at 3-3 and gave the Hammers a point after a dismal first half.

The home side started the brighter with much of their early play coming through Vaz Te, but it was Birmingham that broke the deadlock.

The Blues first chance came in the 14th minute when Robert Green’s block deflected a Chris Burke shot for a corner. It jolted some life into the visitors.

Some prolonged pressure from the away side saw Jordan Mutch go on a good run in the middle of before sending the ball low into the left corner of the West Ham net from 25 yards out, for his second league goal of the season.

After thirty minutes the Blues were 2-0 up after Cole gave the ball away and King fired a shot past Green to score his 15th goal this campaign.

Just before half-time hammer Nicky Maynard hit the crossbar with a left footer, before it rebounded to Nolan who could only send it straight into Boaz Myhill’s hands. But the home team did manage to get on the score sheet seconds later when James Tomkins knocked the ball down for Vaz Te to get a head to the ball in the six-yard box.

City went straight up the pitch to get their third. From a scramble following a corner, Burke shot from long range, the ball hit the wet turf and bounced spectacularly before disappearing past the hapless Green on the stroke of half-time.

West Ham were keen to redress the balance at the start of the second half and while they had a lot of possession they couldn’t find that killer ball. Replacing the docile Maynard with the lively Henri Lansbury now seems a masterstroke as the on-loan Arsenal player was involved in all their good work.

A great tackle by Gary Caldwell in the 66th minute saw him take the ball away from Cole with the tip of his boot as the striker looked to shoot, but Cole redeemed himself minutes later after he brought down a ball from Nolan to send it past Myhill.

On 87th minutes the Hammers were awarded a penalty after Lansbury’s shot hit Burke on the arm. It looked a harsh decision given the how close the City defender was to the player.

Vaz Te slotted it past Myhill, who will be disappointed to concede three after keeping the Londoners at bay for so long.

Regarding the incident, Blues boss Chris Hughton said: “I knew instantly, he [the ref] would give a penalty. All I know is the lad’s two yards away and he’s hit it with such force.”

Home manager, Sam Allardyce was clearly disappointed with his side’s first half performance, said: “You’ve got the first half suicidal commitment, unbelievable from my point of view. We played straight into their hands in the first half. The recovery should’ve started with Vaz Te’s first goal.

“There wasn’t enough determination in the team by the players who defended that corner [that led to Birmingham’s third goal]. They should’ve been thinking; 'I’m gonna have to get my teeth kicked out to ensure they don’t score'.”

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