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Stoke 0 West Ham 1By Ken Gaunt, PA Sport
Diego Tristan kept West Ham on the road to Europe by scoring the winner at the Britannia Stadium.
The Spanish striker scored the only goal of a feisty match in the 32nd minute to leave Stoke stunned.
It was just the result Hammers manager Gianfranco Zola was looking for in his bid to claim seventh place in the table.
With relegation a slight threat, Stoke had different reasons why they wanted to extend their unbeaten home league record.
But despite this defeat they should still have enough points on the board to secure their status.
Stoke looked good in the first half and pushed forward in the ninth minute. Rory Delap picked out Ryan Shawcross with a long throw but his header was safely taken by Robert Green.
Ricardo Fuller then found the net for the home side two minutes later after beating Green to the ball but his effort was disallowed for an infringement.
The striker was left shaking his head in frustration but Tristan suffered a similar fate in the 14th minute.
Delap launched another long throw in the 20th minute and Shawcross peeled away from his marker, only to head wide of the post.
West Ham were struggling to string their passes together at this stage of the game as Stoke looked good going forward.
However the visitors made the breakthrough in the 32nd minute from a set-piece.
Tristan was celebrating after delivering a superb free-kick from 20 yards beyond goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.
The foul was awarded after a challenge by Abdoulaye Faye on David Di Michele as he raced forward.
It was only Tristan's third goal for the visitors in his first season at the club.
Stoke responded and almost equalised in the 40th minute following a swift counter-attack.
Matthew Etherington laid the ball off to Fuller, who had taken up a great position in the penalty area.
He looked odds-on to score but Green reacted well to take the ball off his toes as he prepared to shoot.
Then Delap and Luis Boa Morte were booked after a tussle a minute before half-time and the match was becoming feisty with so much at stake.
Lawrence thought he had won a penalty for Stoke in first-half stoppage time after a challenge from Radoslav Kovac only to get a yellow card for diving.
Fuller then clipped a shot wide of the post in the 59th minute as West Ham again found themselves on the back foot.
It was a good spell by Stoke, who were being urged on by a passionate home support.
Fuller, though, was left nursing his bruises a minute later after coming off second best in a challenge with Matthew Upson.
West Ham were playing some neat football in the middle of the park with Mark Noble and Kovac having a lot of possession.
However they were finding it hard to break the opposition down after opening the scoring through Tristan.
Di Michele took matters into his own hand in the 69th minute when he released Junior Stanislas but Shawcross made a crucial block.
Stoke then came close to equalising in the 74th minute when Lawrence delivered a corner from the left. Faye powered in a header at the back post but Noble cleared off the line.
They kept pushing forward but West Ham almost added a second only for Tristan to drag his effort from a good position.
Stoke Sorensen, Wilkinson (Sonko 88), Abdoulaye Faye,Shawcross, Pugh (Olofinjana 73), Lawrence, Delap, Whelan,Etherington, Fuller, Beattie (Camara 72).
Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Cresswell, Kelly, Tonge.
Booked: Shawcross, Lawrence, Delap.
West Ham Green, Neill, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Stanislas,Noble (Lopez 87), Kovac, Boa Morte (Collison 82), Tristan,Di Michele (Sears 89).
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Spector, Payne, Hines.
Booked: Boa Morte, Neill.
Goals: Tristan 33.
Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).