Hammers hand boss Zola timely boost

WEST HAM clambered out of the relegation zone and eased the pressure on manager Gianfranco Zola with their first win of 2010.

Alessandro Diamanti put the Hammers in front with an exquisite free-kick just before half-time and Carlton Cole wrapped up victory with a close range header midway through the second half.

West Ham’s triumph was especially sweet for new owners David Sullivan and David Gold, who until last year were in charge of Birmingham.

Sullivan hinted pre-match that Zola may have been running out of time, but the Italian can now boast that his side are 14th, albeit just one point above the drop zone. Birmingham, in eighth, already look safe but went behind when Scott Dann fouled Scott Parker and Diamanti’s set piece found the top corner. Cole made sure of the victory in the 67th minute when he met Julien Faubert’s right-wing cross with a header.

Blackburn climbed to 11th with a 1-0 win over Hull, who had George Boateng sent off. The decisive strike came in the 16th minute, when Martin Olsson’s shot went in off goalkeeper Boaz Myhill’s heels.