Thomas Hitzlsperger helped West Ham keep their slim hopes of beating the drop alive with a late goal in the Hammers 1-1 draw with Blackburn.Jason Roberts ‘ early strike look to have earned Blackburn all three points, but Hitzlsperger came to the home side’s rescue with a clinical finish in the 78th minute and ensured they still have it all to play for.
Avram Grant’s side will now have to win their final two games of the season against Wigan and Sunderland and hope other results go their way if they are to stay in the Premier League.
For Blackburn they moved a step closer to safety but will still look anxiously over their shoulders as they prepare to face Manchester United at home next weekend.
Blackburn could have opened the scoring after just three minutes when Morten Gamst Pedersen fired a shot which took a wicked deflection off Manuel Da Costa and the ball flew inches past the post.
West Ham also came close to breaking the deadlock on five minutes when Manuel da Costa saw his header cleared off the line by Pedersen.
But it was the away side who scored the all important first goal on 12 minutes when Brett Emerton broke away down the right and his cross picked out Roberts, who was totally unmarked inside the box, and he slid the ball home from close-range.
The home fans were silenced and it was going to take a major fight back if West Ham were to retain their top flight status.
Grant’s side did their best to force their way back into the game and came close to grabbing an equaliser on 31 minutes when Wayne Bridge’s cross picked out Demba Ba, whose header flew just wide of the post.
Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson then produced a fine save on the stroke half-time to deny Freddie Sears low shot.
West Ham fans seemed resigned to the drop after they started singing ‘We’re going to Coventry’ midway through the second half.
It could have been a lot worse for the home side after Steven N’Zonzi fired a shot which was well palmed away by Robert Green.
West Ham were handed a major lifeline on 78 minutes when Carlton Cole played the ball into Hitzlsperger and he fired a sweet left-foot shot which flew past Robinson into the corner of the net.
Substitute Robbie Keane blew a golden chance to grab the winner on 87 minutes when Frederic Piquionne’s cross fell to the Republic of Ireland forward, but with the goal at his mercy he somehow failed to connect with the ball.
West Ham remain three points adrift of safety, while Blackburn are three points clear of the drop zone.