Vaz Te's late strike puts Hammers through

Posted by Peter Thorne

Ricardo Vaz Te
EmpicsRicardo Vaz Te celebrates his winner for West Ham.

West Ham squeezed their way into the last 16 of the Capital One Cup Tuesday with a late Ricardo Vaz Te strike, although Sam Allardyce's men should have really had the game sewn up much earlier than the winger's 88th-minute header in the 3-2 win over Cardiff.

In fact, after going two goals to the good after only eight minutes and putting in a dominant performance that could easily have bought five or six goals, this could have ended as a bit of an embarrassment for the home side.

Cardiff scored on the stroke of half-time -- a curling 20-yarder from Craig Noone completely against the run of play -- and Peter Odemwingie added a second after 76 minutes to suggest the game was going to go into extra time.

But Vaz Te's late strike will underline the Portuguese player's belief that he has been sidelined for long periods while supposedly better players have been purchased and played without contributing as much.

This goal certainly wasn't up there with the late counter at Wembley in 2012 that ensured a Play-Off victory, but it does emphasise that 'Vaz' does have a propensity to pop up with important goals now and again. In this case, with several Hammers visibly blowing through lack of match practice, an extra half-hour may well have asked some severe questions on the squad as West Ham go into a difficult period of matches.

With Vaz Te's goal, there was a definite sense that the Hammers have come through a bit of a test and can push on from here -- and Vaz Te's obvious delight at the late winner does seem to suggest that there might be a bit of bridge building going on between player and the manager.

As ever with the Capital One Cup, a Premiership team is pretty much damned if they do, damned if they don't with regards to the seriousness with which they treat the competition, so you have to be careful to sift through and pick up the positives.

In this case, in a match in which both sides made significant changes -- the Hammers had seven to the team that lost to Everton last weekend, Cardiff the whole XI -- you'd have to say the Hammers' squad depth inevitably looks a good deal stronger than the Welsh side's. That seemed to be confirmed by the way the visitors' defence parted on several occasions to allow West Ham to get more shots than they would normally expect over the course of a game.

Also, until he was substituted just on the hour mark, the ever-improving Ravel Morrison looked the best player on the pitch scoring after only a minute in, shooting past Cardiff keeper Joe Lewis into the roof of the net.

Morrison also had a hand in the second goal seven minutes later when his pass found Modibo Maiga, allowing Maiga to pull the back from the bye-line for Matt Jarvis to poke over the goal line.

However, a good many opportunities after that went begging. Allardyce will surely be asking how so many chances went unpunished and, unfortunately in a game it might be hoped where he could get a bit of a confidence boost, once again Maiga didn't really provide what his manager wanted from him.

On the other hand, Mladen Petric looked dangerous when he came on, but he also looked seriously short of match practice as he would surely have converted a couple of the chances that came his way had he been a bit sharper.

In an exciting encounter, you have to say the main thing is to be in the next round of the Cup and balance it with the opportunity of blooding inexperienced players.

In this case it was young defender Leo Chambers; a young England international at every level and another product of the Hammers academy, Chambers looked the part against Cardiff and he surely has a big future ahead of him on this showing.

So an entertaining affair, good excitement for the crowd, a chance to test out some of the squad members and into the next round. All in all a good evening's work.


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