West Ham 1 Arsenal 2
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Ref: G P Barber (Pyrford).