Zola praises Hammers' character

Zola praises Hammers' character

West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola hailed the character of Scott Parker and the rest of his players against Portsmouth in his biggest win of the Barclays Premier League season.

Alessandro Diamanti’s penalty and Radoslav Kovac’s late header earned a 2-0 win at Upton Park, leaving Pompey rooted to the bottom and boosting hopes of the Hammers beating the drop by climbing out of the relegation zone.

“It was a fantastic win, a massive one,” said Zola. “I rated this as a six-point game, it was so important for the table and for morale.

“The boys won it with a lot of character and it will be a big boost for everybody.”

He may not have got on the scoresheet but Parker was the clear man of the match with his box-to-box display.

“He is so important,” Zola said. “You can’t even measure it. He leads with his enthusiasm and example and I feel lucky to have a player like him.”

Zola is hoping his side can repeat their efforts of last season when a Boxing Day victory against Pompey sparked a run that saw them climb the table.

“Hopefully it will be the same as last year,” the Italian said. “We will face games now with a bit more security.

“In this period coming up I think we can do something important.”

The only negative aspect of the afternoon was a hamstring injury to Mark Noble that is expected to keep the midfielder out of Monday’s clash against Tottenham.

“He felt his hamstring and had to come off,” Zola confirmed. “I think he’ll be out for Monday.”

Pompey boss Avram Grant could only bring on Kevin-Prince Boateng at half-time as the midfielder was ill prior to the match.

“Boateng had a virus so we couldn’t play him for the start as he hadn’t trained all week,” he said.

“In the second half we dominated the game apart from a few counter-attacks. The game didn’t start well for us and we conceded a ninth penalty of the season.”

Grant loses four players to the African Nations Cup, while Jamie O’Hara will miss the game against Arsenal next week through suspension.

There is still uncertainty over whether Pompey will be allowed to make transfers in January due to their financial situation, with Grant adding: “We will know this week.”

The former Chelsea boss is still positive about staying up.

“Everything is possible,” he said. “We have the quality to win. I’ve said so many times and I’m not a person to change my mind.”

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