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West Ham sink Birmingham to hand Zola a lift

West Ham's new owners were handed a timely reminder that Gianfranco Zola has all the credentials to lead the club to safety as they despatched Birmingham 2-0 at Upton Park.

A goal in each half from Alessandro Diamanti and Carlton Cole earned West Ham their first victory under the new regime.

It was made all the more sweeter for new owners David Gold and David Sullivan by the fact it was achieved at the expense of the club they used to own.

Zola's future as manager had been the subject of much speculation leading up to the game and it sparked a vote of confidence from Sullivan only hours before the kick-off.

The co-owner's remarks that the wage bill would have to be slashed was deemed unhelpful by Zola as he prepared his squad for this vital home game.

But the spirit of unity among the players and their support for Zola was personified by Diamanti's 50-yard run to hug the Italian coach after the striker had put the home side ahead on the stroke of half-time.

West Ham went in front in the second minute of first-half injury time.

City's Scott Dann was booked for a foul on Scott Parker on the edge of the penalty area.

And West Ham made them pay when Diamanti sent the free-kick over the wall and into the top corner for the opening goal.

The home side went 2-0 in front in the 67th minute when Julien Faubert's right-wing cross was met by a diving header from Cole that went in off the far post and sealed the win for the Hammers.

Belfast Telegraph