Wednesday 16 January 2019

Ace Thomas a Hammers hit

Thomas Hitzlsperger hopes that last night's 5-1 FA Cup victory over Burnley will be the spark that ignites West Ham's bid to avoid relegation.

Hitzlsperger made his Hammers debut against the Clarets after missing the previous six months with a serious thigh injury.

The Germany international did not disappoint, firing home a 25-yard screamer to open the scoring for Avram Grant's side, who will now play Stoke in the quarter-finals.

With tough games against Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham on the horizon, Grant's 19th-placed team know that they must go on a run to avoid dropping into the Championship.

Hitzlsperger now hopes last night's win will boost the team's confidence, but has also warned that any mistakes they make could prove costly.

"It's going to bring some confidence back to the camp and that's important with the games ahead of us," Hitzlsperger said.


"This is what we needed, I think, especially (to win) by such a great margin, 5-1 is a good win for us.

"With the games we have coming up, we're playing some really good teams so we need confidence and structure in our game.

"We can't make any mistakes because we need to climb up the table."

Hitzlsperger was initially supposed to be out for eight weeks after picking up his thigh injury in Germany's match against Denmark in August.

But, after two months out, the 28-year-old suffered the agony of the muscle completely coming off the bone in training, severely lengthening his stay on the sidelines.

He was glad to make his Hammers bow after such a long and arduous journey back to fitness.

"I have been looking forward to this for a long time," he said.

"The reception I got was fantastic. I didn't expect it because I thought the fans had forgotten about me.

"The manager was speaking to me before the game about whether I would play 30 minutes or start, but I'm delighted to start with a goal and an important win for us."

Carlton Cole scored twice in three minutes at the start of the second half before Winston Reid and Freddie Sears rounded off the win for the East Londoners.

Burnley held their own for the majority of the first half but they struggled to beat the in-form Robert Green and could only grab a consolation through Jay Rodriguez.

Manager Eddie Howe, whose side sit eighth in the Championship, admitted Cole's quick-fire brace killed the tie.

He said: "At the start of the second half the game was over. Once you go 3-0 down you have to chase the game and it is very difficult.

"It could have been very different. I thought in the first half we were excellent and we were unfortunate to go in 1-0 down at the break.

"Second half, we had a bad start, no denying that. Defensively we looked a little shaky and West Ham punished us."

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