Cole bags brace in Hammers triumph
Carlton Cole was gifted a Boxing Day double as West Ham ended their 27-game wait for an away win in the Barclays Premier League after coming from behind to beat Fulham 3-1.
Cole netted twice after being inadvertently played in by Dickson Etuhu and Aaron Hughes at a frigid Craven Cottage, easing the pressure on manager Avram Grant.
The heat is now well and truly on opposite number Mark Hughes, whose side threw away namesake Aaron's first goal for more than six years, with Frederic Piquionne also on the scoresheet for the Hammers.
Fulham did actually dominate the early stages, and they went ahead when Carlos Salcido's shot was palmed behind and the visitors failed to clear the resulting corner, allowing Simon Davies to cross for the unmarked Hughes to nod home.
They even began playing keep ball as the half progressed, but they gifted their opponents an equaliser with eight minutes of the first half remaining when Freddie Sears' weak cross was intercepted by Etuhu, but the midfielder could only divert the ball straight to Cole, who stretched to angle it beyond the onrushing Mark Schwarzer from six yards.
Cole should have made it 2-1 when he shot straight at the goalkeeper after being put through one-on-one with a minute remaining.
But Piquionne put the visitors ahead in stoppage-time when he arrived completely unmarked to volley in Scott Parker's cross.
Only a desperate clearance from Brede Hangeland prevented Cole turning in Parker's 64th-minute cross, and Sears then sent a shot on the turn wide moments later.
Junior Stanislas had an effort deflected behind in the 71st minute before Hughes tried to cut out a long ball forward but only succeeded in nodding straight to Cole, who fired a superb angled drive across Schwarzer for the third Hammers goal.