West Ham sink Blackpool, return to EPL
West Ham clinched promotion to the Premier League as Ricardo Vaz Te’s late winner sealed a dramatic 2-1 victory over Blackpool in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on Saturday.
Sam Allardyce’s side survived a nervous start to take the lead through Carlton Cole’s first half strike, but Tom Ince equalised soon after the break and Blackpool had several good chances to go ahead.
Portuguese forward Vaz Te made the Seasiders pay for their profligacy when he struck from close-range in the 87th minute to ensure the Hammers returned to the top-flight just 12 months after relegation.
Vaz Te’s winner was crucial for a club who had invested heavily in winning promotion and the east London outfit’s place in the Premier League will rake in between STG45 million and STG90 million ($A72m-144m) in increased revenue according to varying reports.
“Blackpool were every bit as good as us but we just swung it in our favour. It’s 49 games this season and it’s the first time we’ve won a game in the last few minutes,” Allardyce said.
“I’m just delighted to be back in the Premier League. It means everything to me because I had been in the Premier League for 10 years or so (before being sacked by Blackburn in 2010).
“It was difficult at the start to turn this club around but we have come good at the end.”
West Ham finished third, 11 points ahead of fifth-placed Blackpool, but spent most of the season struggling to cope with the demands of their fans and directors, who had both expected automatic promotion.
And they looked like cracking again as Ince fashioned a fine equaliser early in the second half.
Ince’s father Paul has never been forgiven for posing in a Manchester United shirt prior to moving to Old Trafford from West Ham and the young winger was taunted by the Hammers fans at Wembley.
They were silenced in the 48th minute when West Ham’s defenders failed to deal with Phillips’ long pass towards Ince, who produced a superb first-time strike angled across Green into the far corner.© AAP 2013
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