FA Cup: Stoke City 2 West Ham 1

Stoke City secured a berth in the last four of the FA Cup for the first time in 39 years with a thrilling 2-1 win over West Ham at Britannia Stadium.

A Danny Higginbotham free-kick proved the difference in the match, after West Ham’s Frederic Piquionne had controversially cancelled out defender Robert Huth’s opener.

Stoke took the lead after 12 minutes, when a huge throw-in from Rory Delap found Huth unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box and the German powered his header past Robert Green in the West Ham goal.

Avram Grant’s side were back on level terms on the half-hour mark, although there was a definite air of controversy about the goal.

A wonderfully flighted ball from Thomas Hitzelsperger found Piquionne, who controlled the ball and took it past Thomas Sorensen before bundling it home despite the best efforts of Huth to clear.

As well as a hint of offside, television replays clearly showed Piquionne initially controlled the ball with an outstretched arm.

The French striker appeared to injure a knee as a result of Huth’s challenge and promptly limped off for treatment.

Although he managed to return to the field, he was clearly hampered by the injury and had to be replaced by Jonathan Spector.

Just 15 seconds into the second half, Stoke midfielder Matthew Etherington was adjudged to have been fouled by Scott Parker inside the box, although on replay it appeared Etherington made the most of the contact.

Justice was done, however, when Green dived wonderfully to his left to pull off a brilliant save from Etherington’s spot kick.

Stoke regained the lead just after the hour mark, when Higginbotham blasted a free-kick through the wall and although Green managed to get a hand to the ball, it spilled from his grasp and trickled over the line.

In a pulsating finish, West Ham came close to levelling five minutes from stoppage time when Matthew Upson rose beautifully to meet a corner, but his header could only crash off the bar.

 


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