West Ham back in Premier League

19 May 2012 05:16

Ricardo Vaz Te's late strike fired West Ham back to the Barclays Premier League via a dramatic 2-1 play-off final win at Wembley.

The Portuguese winger, a bargain £500,000 January signing from Barnsley, earned the Hammers an estimated £90million windfall with the goal which sank Blackpool.

Carlton Cole had given them the lead in the first half, but Thomas Ince equalised just after the break. However, after an end-to-end second half it was Blackpool, who were unbeaten in their previous 11 play-off matches, who cracked as Vaz Te rifled in the winner four minutes from time.

Boss Sam Allardyce vowed to take West Ham back to what he calls the promised land at the first attempt following last season's relegation, and he was as good as his word as his side saw off Ian Holloway's play-off specialists.

They may have been short-priced favourites having put eight goals past Blackpool in their league meetings this season, but West Ham looked extremely twitchy in the opening stages.

West Ham eventually settled into the game and a slick move between Cole, Gary O'Neil and Vaz Te ended with the latter hitting the side-netting. Cole then headed O'Neil's cross over before Jack Collison curled a shot just too high.

And the goal they had been threatening arrived in the 33rd minute when Matt Taylor robbed Ince and charged down the left before sending a cross towards Cole. The striker took the ball in his stride, held off the challenge of Seasiders defender Ian Evatt and swept the ball past Matt Gilks and into the net.

Two minutes after the restart Blackpool hit the Hammers with a sucker-punch. Cole gave the ball away near the halfway line and Matt Phillips raced forward before swinging in a diagonal cross over the heads of the West Ham defence and right to the feet of Ince.

The winger, whose every touch was jeered by the Hammers fans who never forgave his father Paul Ince the manner in which he left the club some 23 years ago, still had plenty to do. But he found a superb finish his dad would have been proud of, firing the ball across Robert Green and inside the far post.

The winner arrived four minutes from time in the most dramatic fashion. Nolan crossed from the left and Cole's attempt was blocked by Gilks but the ball fell kindly for Vaz Te, who crashed it over the grounded Gilks and into the roof of the net.

Source: PA