Thursday, September 14, 2006

West Ham 0 Palermo 1

Tevez and Mascherano started the game for West Ham. Pardew picked Mascherano in the centre of a three man midfield with Bowyer and Reo-Coker. Zamora was picked up front with Benayoun and Tevez playing a little deeper and wider behind him. Mears remained at right back.

For the first thirty minutes West Ham had the better of the possession but failed to create many goal scoring opportunities. In the 18th minute Tevez dinked a lovely pass past two defenders into the area but Bowyer just failed to meet the ball. On the 25th minute Reo-Coker shot wide from the edge of the box.

The play opened up a little after 30 minutes. In the 35th minute Konchesky's shot from a short free kick from 25 yards was deflected wide. From the resulting corner Ferdinand had a clear header but sent the ball wide. Two minutes later Breschiano shot straight at Carroll at the other end from 20 yards. On the 39th minute Breschiano met a cross with his head which Carroll, at full stretch, managed to tip wide. One minute later Reo-Coker shot over the box from the edge of the area.

West Ham's best chance came in the 41st minute when Zamora out wide on the left wing crossed a lovely ball for Tevez. Tevez tried to place his volley from five yards but the shot was well saved by the keeper. From the corner Mears had a free header, but headed straight into the ground and the ball bounced up nicely for the keeper to catch.

Then on the stroke of half-time Benayoun lost the ball near the half way line on the left wing and Diana crossed the ball low behind the West Ham defence for an easy tap-in for Caracciolo.

Both sides remained unchanged for the second half. In the 48th minute Konchesky, from another short free kick,shot just wide from 25 yards. In the 57th minute Caracciolo was put clean through but Carroll rushed out and managed to just block the ball on the edge of the area.

In the 58th minute Etherington came on for Bowyer and West Ham changed to a 4-4-2. The tactical change seemed to work well for West Ham who looked to have more penetration for the rest of the half. Unfortunately Palermo defended well and West Ham were never able to make their possession count.

In the 61st minute Ferdinand headed over the bar from a corner. In the 76th minute Harewood came on for Tevez and Cole came on for Zamora. Harewood's first touch was a half-volley from a Benayoun cross, which beat the keeper, but hit the post. In the 85th minute Harewood headed well wide from a Konchesky cross. Then in the 89th minute Gabbidon did the same.

In the end West Ham were unlucky, they deserved a draw from the game and Tevez and Harewood were unlucky not to score. Masherano I thought was real class, breaking up Palermo's attacks and passing well. I also think all the players came out of this game with credit and did not look out of place on the European stage, although Konchesky was a bit wasteful in possession in the first half.

Palermo now have the important away goal but at home may not play quite so deep, so West Ham are still in this tie but it is going to be a hard task now.


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