Premier League - West Ham held by Blackburn

Sat, 07 May 16:55:00 2011

Thomas Hitzlsperger salvaged a point for bottom side West Ham against Blackburn in a 1-1 draw at Upton Park which left neither side happy in their fight for Premier League survival.

Match Highlights: West Ham

Jason Roberts put Rovers ahead in the 12th minute with a regulation close-range finish following some insipid defending from the hosts, before Hitzlsperger levelled for the hosts late on to set up a desperate finale.

Substitute Robbie Keane squandered a glorious opportunity to give West Ham the three points they so desperately craved, but the Irishman missed a sitter to leave both sides discontented with a point apiece and the hosts still three points adrift from safety.

Scott Parker missed out again for the Hammers with his Achilles problem and Manuel Da Costa came in for Matthew Upson, who was injured with Keane dropped to the bench, while Michel Salgado's absence saw Brett Emerton fill in as an auxiliary right-back.

The first chance of the match fell to the recalled Morten Gamst Pedersen who was slipped through by Steven N'Zonzi with an incisive pass in the third minute but he drove his low shot agonisingly wide of the near post with Hammers captain Robert Green left flat-footed.

But the Norwegian redeemed himself two minutes later as he cleared off the line valiantly after Da Costa rose imperiously inside the Blackburn half and directed a powerful header towards the far corner of the net.

The Hammers defence was breached in the 12th minute, however, as Roberts bundled the ball home from close range after having evaded the desperately slack marking of Da Costa to convert from Emerton's devilish delivery. It was his sixth goal against the same opposition, and a dreadful one to concede from the hosts.

Robinson was still yet to be tested in the first half as Demba Ba headed tamely wide after rising above Gael Givet to meet Wayne Bridge's pinpoint cross from the left as the hosts lacked any conviction in front of goal.

West Ham showed an alarming lack of urgency or grit as Blackburn outbattled, outfought and outmuscled their opponents with consummate ease to leave the home fans to bemoan their side's lack of application.

Robinson was belatedly forced into his first save of the match two minutes before half time as Ba battled tirelessly to hold the ball up before feeding the onrushing Freddie Sears with a lay off, but the Blackburn keeper made a fine save down low to his left.

West Ham have not managed to turn around a half-time deficit in a Premier League match since December 2008, and there was nothing to provide hope of a sudden resurgence for the Upton Park faithful early in the second half. The hosts' lack of drive from midfield in the absence of the hugely influential Scott Parker was patently evident, and Grant switched to a 4-4-2 formation in the second half in a bid to inject fresh impetus.

Sears brought the hosts to life with an invigorating break down the right, before Thomas Hitzlsperger drew Robinson into a fine save with a rasping drive. It was a sign of things to come, and a warning the Blackburn defence did not heed.

The onus was then on Keane to provide a cutting edge and some inspiration for the Hammers after he was introduced at the expense of the ineffectual Boa Morte midway through the second half, but the hosts' advances were utterly devoid of quality or composure in the final third.

Jack Collison made his first appearance for 15 months following knee surgery while top-scorer Frederic Piquionne was also thrown on as Grant made an enforced double gamble, and Blackburn were at least pegged firmly back in their half as a result.

The despondency was palpable inside Upton Park, but Hitzlsperger suddenly and clinically thundered a piledriver from the edge of the Blackburn box in the 78th minute to draw his side level and reignite the hope of the home fans while setting up an enthralling finale.

West Ham then had the three points served to them on the proverbial platter as Piquionne hurtled down the left and drove across a fine delivery, only for Keane to inexplicably miss his shot from all of three yards out with the goal gaping at his mercy.

Grant now has just 10 victories from his last 56 Premier League games, and the Israeli looks even more likely to become the first manager to oversee two relegations in successive seasons with his side having missed the opportunity to clinch a vital victory.

The Hammers next have a crucial trip to Wigan to negotiate before a final home game against Sunderland, while Rovers rather ominously have to host title-chasing Manchester United before travelling to Molineux to face fellow strugglers Wolves.

Dan Quarrell / Eurosport

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account