Championship - Hammers cruise into Wembley final

Mon, 07 May 17:49:00 2012

West Ham finished the job off in style against Cardiff, beating the Bluebirds 3-0 at Upton Park for a 5-0 play-off semi-final aggregate win.

West Ham United's Kevin Nolan celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mate James Tomkins against Cardiff City at Upton Park in the Championship play-off semi-final second leg. - 0

Sam Allardyce began his spell as Irons boss with a visit from ex-Hammer Malky Mackay's Cardiff on the opening day of the season, when Kenny Miller's stoppage-time strike got his tenure off to a miserable start.

But redemption was well and truly fulfilled at the Boleyn Ground as skipper Kevin Nolan's header from a Matthew Taylor corner was followed by cracking strikes from Ricardo Vaz Te and substitute Nicky Maynard to put an insipid Bluebirds side to the sword.

West Ham will now make the trip across the capital for the Championship play-off final at Wembley on Saturday May 19th, where they will face one of the sides who were also relegated from the top flight in 2010/11 - Blackpool and Birmingham - with an instant return to the Premier League at stake.

Knowing it was do or die after losing 2-0 at home in the first leg, Cardiff went on the attack soon after the opening whistle with Miller and Mark Hudson unable to fashion serious chances.

Miller looked for a penalty call after going down in the box on nine minutes, but referee Mike Dean ruled that Winston Reid had defended legally against the striker.

And six minutes later, in a scene reminiscent of Jack Collison’s opener at the Cardiff City Stadium, the Irons snatched the lead on the day against the run of play.

The first corner of the contest was whipped in with supreme accuracy by Matthew Taylor on 15 minutes, and after Carlton Cole could only help it along, Nolan nodded the loose ball over the line from two yards.

The 3-0 aggregate scoreline almost became four moments later when Collison’s floated cross in from the right was volleyed towards goal by an off-balance Gary O’Neil, the ball looping over goalkeeper David Marshall and down onto the crossbar.

The keeper was at full stretch to keep out the midfielder’s screamer from a Vaz Te cut-back on 34 minutes, but with five left before the break the hosts would find the extra additional daylight they sought as Guy Demel slipped the ball through to Vaz Te on the right flank and the Portuguese forward shook off Andrew Taylor to cut into the box and unleash an unstoppable drive into the far corner.

The one low point for an otherwise-jubilant crowd in East London came three minutes into the second half as a crunching-but-fair challenge from Taylor left Collison in a heap on the grass.

The Welsh international - a product of the club's youth system - scored both goals in Thursday’s first leg, but was replaced by Henri Lansbury and taken to the local hospital as a precautionary measure.

The hosts spent the majority of the second period from there soaking up Cardiff pressure, happy to keep what they had, but came close to scoring again with 11 minutes to spare only for Marshall to block well from Taylor.

Maynard was West Ham’s final switch on 86 in place of Cole, and three minutes later he provided the icing on the cake for the Londoners.

After being put through on goal by fellow replacement Lansbury, the January deadline-day recruit from Bristol City produced a wonderful finish into the top corner for his first goal on the Boleyn turf.

The play-off final will now see the Hammers march out onto the Wembley turf 47 years to the exact day that Alan Sealey's brace sealed a 2-0 win in the European Cup Winners' Cup final against 1860 Munich at the old national stadium, their only major honours on the continent. The West Ham faithful will hope for a lucky omen in their hopes of a speedy return to the top division at the first attempt.

West Ham finished the job off in style against Cardiff, beating the Bluebirds 3-0 at Upton Park for a 5-0 play-off semi-final aggregate win. - 2

Liam Happe - Twitter @liamhappe / Eurosport

Comment 28 - 48 of 48

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  1. Wot do you call west ham supporters with broom handles­ up their back sides Happy.Good luck.

    From anthony, on Wed 9 May 14:08
  2. well done West Ham. I have been a hammers fan for many­ years now and all I hope for is that our owners should­ put funds into buying some good players if we go up.

    From Gemini, on Wed 9 May 1:11
  3. Mark, comment 51 Spell check maybe. you willy ! Welsh­ and proud!!

    From Tony two Cakes, on Tue 8 May 23:01
  4. Wot do you call CARDIFF CITY footballers with broom­ handles up their BUMS. "TAFFY APPLES". Only­ joking Cardiff, May you have better luck next season.­ At least you played a good team. Just wasn't your­ day. Well done the Hammers, going back to where­ "WE BELONG"

    From Mark Reynolds, on Tue 8 May 17:34
  5. Well done West Ham. This has, I am sure, sent out a­ strong message to the other teams and I am a bit scared­ now. Go Blackpool!

    From brant, on Tue 8 May 16:24
  6. GREAT ALL WE NEED NOW IS FOR swansea to be relegated­ and then theirs no welsh sheep shagging temas in the­ ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE after all its not the great­ british prem league so why they hin it?? JOG ON YOU­ TAFFS

    From Mark, on Tue 8 May 15:36
  7. Why O why all these play offs,its us loyal fans who­ have to pay a lot extra so some money grabbing FA­ members can fill their filthy pockets like the Fat­ Cats.

    From , on Tue 8 May 13:14
  8. I have been a Cardiff fan for 25 years and and I am­ proud of that. It really pisses me of when sad­ neanderthals slag Welsh football and the Welsh of . We­ do not have any money and the cost of our team is­ 4,000000.00 however we have been in the play offs for­ the last 3 years an FA & Carling cup final in the­ last 3 years we have been to the new Wembley 5 times­ since it reopened. so not a bad record in resent times.

    From Tony two Cakes, on Tue 8 May 11:31
  9. Well done Hammers. There's already one lot of­ Taffies too many in the Premiership, and we most­ certainly don't want another bunch.

    From TONE, on Tue 8 May 11:08
  10. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    west ham you havent won it yet

    From George Attride, on Tue 8 May 10:36
  11. Im a Celsea fan and I wish the Hammers all the best for­ Wembley be good to see you back

    From muso, on Tue 8 May 9:54
  12. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    Well done West Ham,but its not over till the fat lady­ sings,Don,t think Blackpool or Birmingham will roll­ over like pathetic Cardiff.Don,t count your­ chickens........

    From the patriot, on Tue 8 May 9:35
  13. DONNEY............................when did you get out­ of the nut house? more importantly when are you going­ back.?

    From Martin, on Tue 8 May 9:32
  14. You are nearly go on and finish the job­ on May 19th. It will be good to see you back in the­ premiership.

    From Terry Moore, on Tue 8 May 8:29
  15. come on the hammers will be great to see you back in­ the prem from man u fan

    From cvbil, on Tue 8 May 8:24
  16. None of this play-off stuff should be neccessary. WH­ are well clear in third spot and deserve to be going­ up. Daft idea in the first place IMO.

    From Roy Goutte, on Tue 8 May 8:16
  17. Having supported West Ham for over 45 years I have come­ to know that nothing is certain with this club as there­ always seems to be some drama to knock us of course.­ Maybe just maybe this time it might all just click.­ Here's hoping.

    From JOHN, on Tue 8 May 7:42
  18. West HAm are a Premier League guys need to­ be back where you belong

    From Vincent, on Tue 8 May 2:53
  19. Ahh Sam, can hear you chuckling up here in blackburn.­ Not that i can blame you of course. Good luck to the­ Irons, you should make it back first time of asking.­ Doubt we will but at least the fair-weather fans­ won't be joining us!

    From neil, on Tue 8 May 1:23
  20. Steve......... you forgot John Charles, Mel Charles,­ Jack Kelsey and Ivor Allchurch!

    From bill, on Tue 8 May 0:46
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