Saturday 18 November 2017

Ilan deals Hammers a lifeline


West Ham 1

Sunderland 0

Brazilian striker Ilan is fast emerging as West Ham's unlikely saviour after he earned the relegation-threatened Hammers a vital Premier League lifeline.

The 29-year-old followed up his equaliser against Everton last weekend with the only goal as West Ham edged four points clear of the relegation zone.

Ilan was virtually unknown in England when Gianfranco Zola signed him from St Etienne on deadline day in January. Zola was hopeful that Ilan's first goal for the club at Goodison Park last week, when West Ham ended a miserable run of six straight defeats, would spark a turnaround in their fortunes.

Ilan was promoted into the starting side and he made the telling contribution after 51 minutes, when he latched onto Carlton Cole's downward header to earn West Ham their first win in eight games.

West Ham are still far from safe but this result, combined with Burnley's victory at Hull, means their manager Zola will breathe a little easier today. The explosion of noise around Upton Park yesterday after the goal was as much relief as celebration.

Sunday Independent

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