WEST HAM 5 VS BURNLEY 1
WEST HAM manager Avram Grant believes the return to fitness of Thomas Hitzlsperger could be the turning point in the club’s season.
The Premier League strugglers cruised into the last eight of the FA Cup following an easy win over Burnely, with Hitzlsperger opening the scoring via a trademark thunderbolt on his debut for the club.
The former Aston Villa midfielder represented the Hammers’ headline summer signing when he arrived from Lazio, but a groin injury kept him on the sidelines until last night.
“It’s very important that he is back, he can score from everywhere, he is an important player to us and we were waiting for him,” said Grant.
Hitzlsperger, making his first appearance in English football for nearly six years, added: “It all came together on this special day for me. I thought the fans must have forgotten about me but no they didn’t, they were fantastic.”
The 28-year-old struck the only goal of an evenly contested first-half from 25-yards in the 23rd minute, and the game was effectively over when Carlton Cole struck twice in two minutes just after the break.
Winston Reid powered home the fourth with his head, and although Jay Rodriguez plundered a comical consolation, West Ham had the final say of the night when Freddie Sears pounced for a well taken fifth.
Meanwhile, club captain Matthew Upson denied reports he will be out for the rest of the season with an Achilles injury and hopes to be back in training by the end of this week.
SIXTH ROUND DRAW | FA CUP
Stoke City v West Ham
Man City or Aston Villa v Everton or Reading
Birmingham v Bolton
Manchester United v Leyton Orient or Arsenal
Ties to be played on 12 and 13 March