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Sunday 19 January 2020

Zabaleta Hammers hero with his first goal in three years

Gillingham 0 West Ham 2

Pablo Zabaleta
Pablo Zabaleta

David Moyes saluted West Ham's unlikely FA Cup saviour Pablo Zabaleta after the veteran's first goal in almost three years helped defeat League One Gillingham.

Second-half goals from 34-year-old defender Zabaleta and fellow substitute Pablo Fornals secured a 2-0 win and a place in the fourth round.

Moyes, unlike many of his fellow Premier League managers, named his strongest available team but Gillingham still threatened an upset during a one-sided first half.

However, the visitors were a different side after the break to ensure they avoided a giantkilling.

Moyes, who has two wins from two matches since replacing Manuel Pellegrini at the Hammers' helm, said: "I knew that was going to be hard.

"It was a really tough game. It took us to the second half to get the ball down and show a bit of composure. I'm really pleased with the players' resilience and character.

"I felt in the first half every time the ball came to us we were slashing at it. Zabaleta gave us some balance and passed it well.

"It was his first goal in about 75 games, and he came in and said to the others, 'I've had to bail you out again'!

"But his professionalism is incredible, he's been a really good player, but like us all as you get older you slow down a bit.

"Obviously getting through is key and I really felt the players stuck at it. I've only been here a week but we've got two clean sheets, six goals, and there's a feeling that there's a bit of a spirit starting to grow among them."

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