Majestic Pennant strike hands Stoke win at West Ham
Premier League, Upton Park - West Ham 0 Stoke 1 (Pennant 82)
Jermaine Pennant came off the bench to score a brilliant free kick and earn Stoke all three points against an off-colour West Ham.
Stoke enjoyed the better of the first half and would have been ahead but for a quick double save by 38-year-old Hammers keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, who kept out Marc Wilson’s fizzing volley then got up to smother Jonathan Walters’s effort from close range.
The second half was a tepid affair and the game seemed destined to end goalless, but Mark Hughes threw on Pennant in search of a late winner – and it proved a masterstroke.
With nine minutes remaining, Pennant bent a 25 yard free-kick over the West Ham wall and into the bottom corner to score his first goal since May 2011, and give Stoke back-to-back Premier League wins.
PRE-MATCH: Joe Cole misses out for West Ham, Stewart Downing starts – Cole fails a late finess test but that means Stewart Downing is given his first West Ham start at Upton Park. Ravel Morrison is on the bench. Peter Crouch returns to the bench for Stoke.
9’ JONES GOES CLOSE: Jones muscles Collins off the ball and drives at the West Ham defence, but can only blaze his shot high and wide.
22’ JAASKELAINEN ON THE DOUBLE: The 38-year-old Finn keeps Stoke out with a brilliant double save: first from Wilson, then getting up to smother Walter’s shot.
33’ BIG MISS: Big chance for West Ham as Jarvis digs out a cross from the right that finds Maiga in a perfect position, but he can only send his free header wide.
82’ PENNANT PEACH: Pennant comes off the bench a plants a pearler into the bottom corner from 25 yards. Lovely strike by the super sub.
TALKING POINT: West Ham need Andy Carroll. With Ricardo Vaz Te seemingly on his way out of Upton Park and Andy Carroll injured, West Ham looked painfully short of attacking options. Maiga is simply not good enough and, with Carroll, West Ham look very ordinary indeed.
@OptaJoe: Jermaine Pennant's goal at West Ham is his first strike in the PL since May 8 2011, 846 days ago
Infostrada: Including today, the last six Premier League games between these two have produced just ten goals.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Steven N'Zonzi (Stoke City) - Commanding in midfield, and a key man in Stoke's win. Shielded the back four solidly and troubled West Ham with his powerful runs.