Monday 18 December 2017

Keane miss leaves Hammers hopeless

West Ham utd 1
Blackburn Rvs 1

Ben Findon

Roads to relegation are littered with sorry series of 'if onlys' and if West Ham do depart the top flight, as looks increasingly likely, one of the most plaintive will have come from striker Robbie Keane.

"I wish I knew why I missed," was the substitute's response to his manager after somehow failing to apply a simple touch to Frederic Piquionne's gift-wrapped cross two minutes from the end that would have transformed West Ham's battle against the drop.

It has been a wretched run for the man borrowed from Tottenham in January for a reported £65,000 a week to provide sting up front. Six days earlier, he missed in a one-on-one with goalkeeper Joe Hart as West Ham lost narrowly at Manchester City. The week before, Keane, for whom West Ham have agreed to pay Spurs £6m to make his move permanent if they do survive, spurned his side's best chance at Chelsea.

It was not how it was meant to be. "When I went on loan to Celtic, I scored 17 goals in 19 games. If I do half as well here, I will be happy," he said upon arriving at Upton Park in January. Three-and-a-half months on and it's two goals in nine league appearances.

Keane and his chronically under-performing team-mates have two remaining shots at redemption. Avram Grant admits that Saturday's visit to Wigan is a must-win match for which the club board, in one of their smarter PR moves, are laying on free transport for 4,500 travelling fans. If West Ham survive until the final day, a visit from mid-table Sunderland appears winnable though they will require results elsewhere to go their way.

Again without Achilles injury victim Scott Parker, West Ham toiled grimly for almost 80 minutes, attempting to wipe out Jason Roberts' early smash and grab for Blackburn.

The visitors' back line, reshuffled to cope with the absences of Phil Jones, ruled out by a back spasm, and Michel Salgado, was easily holding on until Thomas Hitzlsperger, left unattended in the box, drove home with 12 minutes remaining.

Now, at last, Blackburn came under sustained threat, Keane's miss was followed by another heart-in-mouth moment when Christopher Samba crowned an outstanding performance at centre-back by hurling himself to block Carlton Cole's close-range blast moments from the end. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport