West Ham 1 Arsenal 2

  • By: Martin Lipton, PA Sport Chief Soccer Writer
  • Last Updated: May 22 2012, 10:00 BST

Hammers heroes John Hartson and Rio Ferdinand became Upton Park villains as

Arsenal scrambled through to the last four of the Coca-Cola Cup.

Strike ace Hartson had come into the game desperate to add to the 23 goals he

had scored in the 37 games since his £3.2million switch from Highbury last

February.

But the dream scenario went horribly wrong when the Welshman's woeful first

half penalty was saved by David Seaman, easily atoning for another goalkeeping

gaffe.

Ian Wright took advantage by claiming only his second goal in three months six

minutes later, exchanging passes with Dennis Bergkamp before crashing past Craig

Forrest.

It was Wright's staggering 29th goal in 29 appearances in the competition for

the Gunners and Crystal Palace, and celebrated with relish.

Then seven minutes after the break, teenager Ferdinand, who was never at ease

against top Gunners Wright and Bergkamp, committed a schoolboy error which

allowed Marc Overmars to slot home the killer.

And while substitute Samassi Abou did his best to breathe life into the

proceeding by coming off the bench to score his first goal in English football,

Arsene Wenger's side were never going to relinquish their advantage.

It spelled the end of the Hammers' 10-match winning run, their best in 16

years and was enough for two-time winners Arsenal to reach their ninth

semi-final.

Perhaps the Hammers should have expected the worst. After all, Arsenal had won

their last five games against their neighbours and were unbeaten at Upton Park

since 1987.

They were also - after fielding a reserve team in the early rounds - taking it

seriously, and even if a sodden pitch was not exactly conducive to good

football, it was clear right from the start that Bergkamp and Wright were back

in the old routine.

One turn and cross from the Dutchman was wasted by his strike partner who

headed over but Arsenal not stinting in commitment either with first-half

bookings for Patrick Vieira, Nigel Winterburn and Emmanuel Petit.

Bergkamp tested Forrest with a curling free-kick and Ray Parlour failed to

make the most of a four against three break, before Seaman's continued

fallibility gifted the Hammers the clearest of chances.

Paul Kitson seemed to be running out of room as he latched onto Eyal

Berkovic's pass, but Seaman, rushing from his line, clumsily clipped the

striker.

Referee Graham Barber had no doubts, but while Hartson grabbed the ball

confidently enough, it went rapidly downhill.

The approach belied that of a man who had 18 goals to his credit already this

term, and the weakest of spot-kicks was easily grabbed by a relieved Seaman.

It looked as if it would prove fatal, and so it did. Forrest did well not to

bring Wright down in a similar position and then dived to deny Bergkamp after he

had out-fought Ferdinand.

Yet the Canadian could not keep the ball out three minutes later as Wright and

Bergkamp linked up again.

Winterburn's ball dropped on Wright's foot and rolled towards Bergkamp, and

with Ferdinand, David Unsworth and Ian Pearce all caught out the return pass saw

Wright zip across goal before slipping home.

Despite dominating possession the Hammers were not creating, Hartson and

Kitson not making the inroads they were hoping for.

They did come as close as they could a minute before the break, Lampard

hitting a free-kick round the wall and Seaman slithering across feet-first to

touch the ball onto his upright and away.

A sign of what might be perhaps, and the home side started the second half

stronger, Kitson floating a header wide and Berkovic forcing a fingertip save

from Seaman.

But seven minutes after the restart Overmars was gift-wrapped the clincher,

and there was no way back.

Seaman pumped a free-kick up the middle, and although Wright worried Ferdinand

and Unsworth, there should have been no danger as the ball dropped into the

box.

Yet neither England defender took command, watching each other and then, in

horror, Overmars as the Dutch winger stroked home his sixth of the season.

All over, even more the case when the willing Kitson limped off to be replaced

by Abou, and with West Ham committed to throwing men forward, Wenger's side

looked as likely to catch them on the break.

Wright strayed offside after Overmars had surged forward and then just failed

to get on the end of a teasing cross by the Dutchman.

West Ham at least kept coming and Abou gave them hope 15 minutes from time,

sneaking between Steve Bould and Martin Keown onto Stan Lazaridis' long ball to

poke home his first goal in English football.

It ensured a late siege, although if Overmars had been half-a-stride quicker

he would surely have finished it off after Forrest could not hold from Wright's

low skimmer.

In the final seconds, Lazaridis roasted Grimandi but Lampard could not keep

the ball down and as it sailed over the bar, so did claret and blue hopes.

Teams:

West Ham: Forrest, Impey, Unsworth, Ferdinand,

Pearce (Rowland 66), Lazaridis, Potts, Lampard, Berkovic,

Hartson, Kitson (Abou 59).

Subs Not Used: Lama.

Booked: Ferdinand, Unsworth.

Goals: Abou 75.

Arsenal: Seaman, Winterburn, Vieira, Bould, Wright (Wreh 83),

Bergkamp, Overmars (Hughes 88), Keown, Parlour, Petit, Grimandi.

Subs Not Used: Manninger.

Booked: Vieira, Winterburn, Petit, Grimandi.

Goals: Wright 25, Overmars 52.

Att: 24,770

Ref: G P Barber (Pyrford).