Bolton 3 West Ham 1 (after extra-time)
Defender Gary Cahill was the unlikely match-winner for Bolton as he produced a stunning strike in extra-time to beat West Ham 3-1 in their Carling Cup third-round tie at the Reebok Stadium.
The centre-back drilled home from 25 yards just six minutes into the additional period to turn things around for the home side with Johan Elmander sliding in a third very late on.
Wanderers captain Kevin Davies had struck with a header just before the end of 90 minutes to cancel out Herita Ilunga’s first goal for the club on the hour.
Although the Barclays Premier League remains the priority for Bolton, the victory provided a welcome confidence boost after a sketchy start to the season.
For West Ham this was a seventh failure in eight years to reach the fourth round but at least manager Gianfranco Zola now has a chance to concentrate on lifting his side away from the lower end of the league table.
Despite not having the best start to their campaigns the match got off to a flying start and both sides could have scored in the opening two minutes.
From Matt Taylor’s corner Ricardo Gardner’s shot was charged down by Ilunga and West Ham quickly countered with Kieron Dyer seeing his effort deflected past a post.
From that corner Alessandro Diamanti’s strike was saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
In the 13th minute Robert Green got down well to his right to keep out Zat Knight’s header from Sam Ricketts’ cross, while Zavon Hines was denied by Jaaskelainen as the end-to-end action continued.
Ivan Klasnic, who was brought in to provide extra firepower as before tonight £10million striker Elmander had not scored in 22 matches since his goal against Aston Villa on December 13, produced his howler in the 27th minute.
Davies did all the hard work by beating Manuel da Costa to the right byline but when he clipped in his cross the Croatian somehow diverted the ball back towards his team-mate from three yards with the goal at his mercy.
Seconds later Klasnic showed a much better touch as his looping header from Gardner’s cross forced Green into a fingertip save.
Just before half-time Da Costa was only inches away from heading in Ilunga’s left-wing cross as the Hammers showed they remained a threat.
Less than two minutes into the second half Klasnic almost scored with a complete mis-kick.
Davies’ knock-down dropped to him on the penalty spot and as he swung a leg at it the ball shot skywards but as the Croatian turned his back in disgust Green had to tip it over as it dropped just under his crossbar.
The England goalkeeper was also at full stretch to get his fingertips to Taylor’s inswinging right-wing cross as Bolton increased the pressure.
Surprisingly, it was West Ham who took the lead in the 59th minute with their first real attack after the interval.
Taylor hacked wildly at Diamanti’s poorly-hit corner and succeeded only in diverting the ball to the far post where Ilunga rammed home from close range.
Klasnic was eventually replaced by Elmander with 14 minutes remaining but Taylor remained Bolton’s biggest threat with his set-piece delivery and twice the visitors had to scramble away right-wing corners.
With five minutes to go Taylor’s fiendish delivery finally worked as Davies headed home the equaliser.
Taylor almost won the match four minutes into the added period but his 25-yard free-kick rebounded off a post with Green well beaten.
However, the winner came two minutes later when Fabrice Muamba’s blocked shot dropped to centre-back Cahill who smashed home from outside the penalty area.
Diamanti hit the crossbar with a left-footed curling shot nine minutes from the end but that was the closest West Ham came as Elmander added the decisive third late on.