Ricardo Vaz Te struck a late winner as West Ham defeated Blackpool in an absorbing Championship play-off final to seal their return to the Premier League at the first attempt.
The result ensured that manager Sam Allardyce made good on his promise to take the Hammers back into the top flight after his team narrowly missed out on automatic promotion at the end of the regular season.
"The keeper was magnificent but the ball slipped out of his hands. Vaz Te was in the right place at the right time to smash the ball into the net. But Gilks could have been a bit stronger."
Allardyce's side had led at the break through a Carlton Cole strike but after Thomas Ince - son of former Hammers midfielder Paul - levelled shortly after the restart, the match became increasingly stretched and ragged.
Both teams wasted good opportunities to score but it was the London side who did grab what proved to be the decisive third when the unmarked Vaz Te, a January signing from Barnsley, drilled the ball into the net from 12 yards.
It was a goal that meant West Ham won on their first appearance at Wembley in 31 years, in doing so becoming the first team since Leicester in 1996 to bounce straight back to the Premier League through the play-offs.
But it ensured that the unfortunate Blackpool, relegated along with West Ham last season, did not seal a fairytale return to the top flight.
The Seasiders had been in excellent form during the closing weeks of the season and showed incredible guts and desire to hold off Birmingham in their play-off semi-final.
"Even if some think Allardyce's team are the equivalent of a backstreet bruiser, nobody can argue that he has not made good on his promise to win promotion."
Several times during the final it looked as though Ian Holloway's team would shake off the loss of key striker Gary Taylor-Fletcher to an injury picked up in training and overcome the odds by defeating the heavily fancied Hammers.
Holloway's team spurned several good opportunities to take the lead, with Stephen Dobbie the first into action, drawing a decent save from Robert Green after Hammers left-back Matt Taylor failed to clear a diagonal ball.
Matt Phillips shot tamely from 20 yards after he had been played clean through and the former Wycombe wide man later missed from 14 yards after a terrible botched clearance from Guy Demel created the opening.
West Ham started with Vaz Te on the left and Cole often isolated ahead of a packed Hammers midfield. Vaz Te was a constant menace but it was from the otherwise disappointing Taylor that the London team created the opening goal.
Taylor surged forward down the left flank and, after Angel Martinez wasted a chance to snuff out the move, delivered a teasing cross that Cole controlled before drilling the ball across goal from 10 yards.
Did you know?
- This was West Ham's first visit to Wembley since 1981.
- The Hammers have not lost to Blackpool for 41 years.
- Ian Evatt equalled the most appearances at Wembley for Blackpool, joining Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen with three.
The goal seemed to temporarily derail Blackpool, who rather limped through the final 15 minutes of the first half before levelling shortly after the restart.
The Hammers had looked comfortable in the lead, playing a high line and squeezing the space in midfield. But after Taylor was caught out by another raking diagonal pass, Ince showed excellent composure in allowing the ball to bounce before shooting low across Green's goal.
Allardyce had clearly seen enough and brought on George McCartney to slot in at left-back to try to nullify the threat posed by Ince.
But although that was probably an effective decision the match in general nonetheless became stretched as both teams pushed in search of what would probably be the game's decisive goal.
Dobbie, a play-off winner last season with Swansea, missed a brilliant chance, scuffing his shot from 14 yards when completely unmarked, while West Ham skipper Kevin Nolan was unlucky to see his technically superb volley crash against the woodwork.
The final seemed to be heading for extra-time before Vaz Te struck after Matt Gilks parried at the feet of Cole to justify his team's billing as favourites and leave supporters looking forward to a return to the Premier League when the new season starts in August.
- 01 Gilks
- 03 Crainey
- 05 Eardley
- 06 Evatt
- 15 Baptiste
- 16 Ferguson
- 23 M Phillips
- 31 Angel (Dicko - 90' )
- 07 Dobbie (Bednar - 90' )
- 09 K Phillips (Sylvestre - 71' )
- 36 Ince
- 20 Cathcart
- 04 Southern
- 14 Sylvestre
- 32 Dicko
- 35 Bednar
West Ham United
- 01 Green
- 02 Reid
- 05 Tomkins
- 20 Demel (Faubert - 57' )
- 04 Nolan
- 10 Collison
- 14 Taylor
- 16 Noble
- 32 O'Neil (McCartney - 53' )
- 09 Cole
- 12 Vaz Te Booked
- 13 Henderson
- 03 McCartney
- 18 Faubert
- 22 Lansbury
- 08 Maynard
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.90:00 +0:11
Effort on goal by Matthew Taylor from deep inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.89:26 Substitution
Substitution Nouha Dicko joins the action as a substitute, replacing Martinez Angel.89:26 Substitution
Substitution Stephen Dobbie leaves the field to be replaced by Roman Bednar.87:09 Booking
Booking Ricardo Vaz Te is booked.86:47
The assist for the goal came from Carlton Cole.86:47 Goal scored
Goal! - Ricardo Vaz Te - Blackpool 1 - 2 West Ham Ricardo Vaz Te finds the back of the net with a goal from close range high into the middle of the goal. Blackpool 1-2 West Ham.86:02
Header from deep inside the area by James Tomkins goes over the bar.85:36
Unfair challenge on Carlton Cole by Martinez Angel results in a free kick. Mark Noble takes the free kick.84:00
Free kick awarded for a foul by Ricardo Vaz Te on Ian Evatt. Matthew Gilks restarts play with the free kick.83:18
Mark Noble takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Matt Phillips.82:10
Winston Reid concedes a free kick for a foul on Stephen Dobbie. Direct free kick taken by Stephen Crainey. Stephen Dobbie takes a shot. Comfortable save by Robert Green.81:06
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kevin Nolan by Stephen Dobbie. Julien Faubert takes the direct free kick.79:27
The ball is swung over by George McCartney, Kevin Nolan takes a shot. Save made by Matthew Gilks.78:03
Shot by Jack Collison from just outside the area goes over the net.76:07
The assistant referee flags for offside against Thomas Ince. Free kick taken by Robert Green.75:03
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Matt Phillips, clearance made by Matthew Taylor.74:52
Stephen Dobbie takes a shot. Save by Robert Green.71:31
A cross is delivered by Ricardo Vaz Te, clearance by Stephen Crainey.70:40 Substitution
Substitution (Blackpool) makes a substitution, with Ludovic Sylvestre coming on for Kevin Phillips.
Corner taken left-footed by Thomas Ince from the right by-line, Ian Evatt takes a shot. Effort on goal by Alex Baptiste from deep inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.69:19
Stephen Dobbie takes a shot. Mark Noble gets a block in.66:52
Effort from deep inside the area by Stephen Dobbie misses to the left of the target.65:44
Long distance shot from Matt Phillips misses to the left of the net.62:36
Carlton Cole takes a shot. Save by Matthew Gilks.61:05
Ricardo Vaz Te is caught offside. Matthew Gilks takes the indirect free kick.59:04
Centre by Matthew Taylor, Shot by Jack Collison from deep inside the six-yard box clear the bar.55:29
Free kick taken by Matthew Gilks.55:29 Substitution
Substitution (West Ham) makes a substitution, with Julien Faubert coming on for Guy Demel.55:29
The assistant referee flags for offside against Ricardo Vaz Te.54:57
Foul by Martinez Angel on Mark Noble, free kick awarded. Robert Green restarts play with the free kick.54:23
Kevin Nolan gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stephen Crainey. Direct free kick taken by Stephen Crainey.52:45 Substitution
Substitution George McCartney joins the action as a substitute, replacing Gary O'Neil.52:00
Unfair challenge on Mark Noble by Barry Ferguson results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Robert Green.51:09
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Matt Phillips from the left by-line, comfortable save by Robert Green.50:47
Neal Eardley crosses the ball, Winston Reid makes a clearance.49:46
Corner taken by Matt Phillips from the left by-line, clearance by Winston Reid.49:24
Alex Baptiste takes a shot. Clearance by Matthew Taylor.48:18
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Barry Ferguson by Kevin Nolan. Matthew Gilks takes the free kick.47:08
Assist by Matt Phillips.47:08 Goal scored
Goal! - Thomas Ince - Blackpool 1 - 1 West Ham Goal scored by Thomas Ince from close range to the bottom left corner of the goal. Blackpool 1-1 West Ham.45:59
Stephen Crainey fouled by Jack Collison, the ref awards a free kick. Matthew Gilks takes the indirect free kick.45:21
Free kick awarded for a foul by Alex Baptiste on Kevin Nolan. Free kick crossed left-footed by Matthew Taylor, Ian Evatt manages to make a clearance.45:01
The referee gets the second half started.45:00 +1:07 Half time
Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.44:07
Carlton Cole concedes a free kick for a foul on Ian Evatt. Matthew Gilks takes the direct free kick.42:14
Shot from just outside the area by Martinez Angel goes over the bar.41:33
James Tomkins gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Kevin Phillips. Neal Eardley takes the free kick.40:48
The assistant referee flags for offside against Kevin Phillips. Robert Green takes the free kick.37:16
Ricardo Vaz Te has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the target.34:08
Matthew Taylor provided the assist for the goal.34:08 Goal scored
Goal! - Carlton Cole - Blackpool 0 - 1 West Ham Carlton Cole gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the six-yard box to the top left corner of the goal. Blackpool 0-1 West Ham.32:56
Effort on goal by Stephen Crainey from outside the box goes harmlessly over the bar.31:21
Corner from left by-line taken by Mark Noble.30:57
Mark Noble takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance by Alex Baptiste.30:24
Inswinging corner taken by Matthew Taylor, Alex Baptiste manages to make a clearance.30:03
Inswinging corner taken by Mark Noble from the left by-line, save made by Matthew Gilks.27:29
Free kick awarded for a foul by Kevin Nolan on Kevin Phillips. Barry Ferguson takes the direct free kick.26:08
Effort from the edge of the box by Jack Collison goes wide of the left-hand post.25:27
Kevin Phillips is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Robert Green.21:25
Carlton Cole has a headed effort from close range and clears the crossbar.20:25
Barry Ferguson concedes a free kick for a foul on Gary O'Neil. James Tomkins restarts play with the free kick.19:22
Effort from inside the area by Ricardo Vaz Te misses to the left of the goal.14:47
Matt Phillips produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty area which goes wide of the right-hand post.13:24
Matt Phillips takes a shot. Save by Robert Green.12:38
Carlton Cole is ruled offside. Alex Baptiste restarts play with the free kick.9:51
Ricardo Vaz Te produces a cross.5:11
The assistant referee flags for offside against Ricardo Vaz Te. Free kick taken by Alex Baptiste.2:45
Stephen Dobbie takes a shot. Save by Robert Green.1:00
Ricardo Vaz Te is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Indirect free kick taken by Ian Evatt.0:00
The game gets underway.
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