West Ham United Defeat Blackpool In Championship Play-Off Final To Return To Premier League (GALLERY)

The Huffington Post UK  |  By Posted: Updated: 19/05/2012 17:49

West Ham United defeated Blackpool 2-1 in the Championship Play-off final 2-1 to make an instant return to the Premier League.

An 87th minute winner from Ricardo Vaz Te settled an exciting match, making the Hammers £90m beneficiaries of their return to England's top flight.

A January signing from Barnsley, Vaz Te, who played under Sam Allardyce with Bolton Wanderers, has scored 12 goals in 18 games for his new club.

Blackpool started as brightly as their fans' attire. Thomas Ince - roundly booed due to his father's acrimonious departure from Upton Park in 1989 - saw a powerful shot hit the post via a fortunate ricochet from Robert Green's glove.

Matt Phillips, giving right-back Guy Demel a torrid time, then seemed set to break clear after some neat build-up play, but his inability to shift the ball out of his feet resulted in a tame shot at England's back up goalkeeper for the Euros.

The 21-year-old Tangerines winger then beat Demel and James Tomkins but fired wide as the Hammers' sluggish start continued inside the first 15 minutes.

Yet Holloway's side struggled to sustain momentum and their opponents duly took advantage to take a foothold in the game.

Ian Evatt's failure to push up enabled Carlton Cole to collect a long ball from Matt Taylor, and with goalkeeper Matt Gilks again displaying the hesitance he showed at a flurry of corners previously, the former Chelsea striker coolly slotted past the Scot.

cole
Cole opens the scoring

One-nil up at half-time, Ian Holloway was tasked with motivating his charges whilst Allardyce - bemoaned for not advocating the "West Ham way" often enough this season - had to choose whether to stick or twist.

He barely had a chance to find out, since shortly after half-time, Ince silenced the boo boys.

Eerily similar to Cole's opener, Phillips atoned for his two misses with an excellent angled ball to expose the Irons' porous defence, allowing the nippy winger to finish expertly first time.

ince
Ince equalises

Unsettled by Blackpool's auspicious start, West Ham almost fell behind as Alex Baptiste found himself one-on-one with Green, but the ball would not settle kindly for the 26-year-old.

Allardyce then introduced George McCartney and Julien Faubert for Gary O'Neil and Demel within 10 minutes of the restart in a bid to counter the lively Phillips and Ince.

His team regained the ascendancy as a result, with Cole drawing an excellent save from Gilks on the hour mark after a low-drilled shot.

Shortly after Stephen Dobbie spurned a tremendous opportunity to give Blackpool the lead on the 66th minute, when he scuffed Neil Eardley's precise cross with the goal gaping.

Three minutes later the Scot saw a shot deflected wide, and from the resultant corner Mark Noble cleared off his own goal line after Phillips had deflected Eardley's off-target effort goalbound.

Green then tentatively parried another Dobbie effort wide as Blackpool reaffirmed their dominance, but it was West Ham who would go closer soon after.

With 10 minutes remaining, the peripheral Hammers captain Kevin Nolan struck a magnificent volley from McCartney's cross, which was superbly tipped onto the crossbar by Gilks.

But then Vaz Te capitalised. With three minutes to go, Nolan's flat cross found its way into the penalty area, as Cole bundled the loose ball away from an onrushing Gilks.

vaz te
Vaz Te wins it

And with an overload waiting at the far post, it was the Portuguese who slammed in the winner to send West Ham returning immediately to the Premier League.

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  • Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Play Off - Final - Blackpool v West Ham United - Wembley Stadium

    West Ham United fans show their support, in the stands prior to kick-off

  • Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Play Off - Final - Blackpool v West Ham United - Wembley Stadium

    Blackpool fans show their support in the stands

  • Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Play Off - Final - Blackpool v West Ham United - Wembley Stadium

    Blackpool manager Ian Holloway and West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce (left) on the touchline

  • Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Play Off - Final - Blackpool v West Ham United - Wembley Stadium

    Blackpool's Thomas Ince (left) in action with West Ham United's Gary O'Neil (centre) and Mark Noble

  • Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Play Off - Final - Blackpool v West Ham United - Wembley Stadium

    West Ham United's Joel Tomkins (left) and Blackpool's Thomas Ince (right) in action

  • Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Play Off - Final - Blackpool v West Ham United - Wembley Stadium

    West Ham United's Carlton Cole (centre) scores their first goal of the game

  • Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Play Off - Final - Blackpool v West Ham United - Wembley Stadium

    West Ham United's Carlton Cole (centre right) celebrates scoring their first goal of the game with team-mates

  • Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Play Off - Final - Blackpool v West Ham United - Wembley Stadium

    Blackpool's Stephen Dobbie (left), Barry Ferguson (centre) and Kevin Phillips stand dejected after conceeding the first goal of the game

  • Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Play Off - Final - Blackpool v West Ham United - Wembley Stadium

    Blackpool's Thomas Ince (centre) scores their first goal of the game

  • Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Play Off - Final - Blackpool v West Ham United - Wembley Stadium

    Blackpool's Thomas Ince celebrates after scoring the equalising goal

  • Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Play Off - Final - Blackpool v West Ham United - Wembley Stadium

    West Ham United goalkeeper Robert Green (centre) denies Blackpool's Alex Baptiste (second left)

  • Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Play Off - Final - Blackpool v West Ham United - Wembley Stadium

    West Ham United's Ricardo Vaz Te (centre) celebrates scoring their second goal of the game

  • Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Play Off - Final - Blackpool v West Ham United - Wembley Stadium

    West Ham United's Ricardo Vaz Te celebrates scoring their second goal of the game

  • Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Play Off - Final - Blackpool v West Ham United - Wembley Stadium

    West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce celebrates on the touchline

  • Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Play Off - Final - Blackpool v West Ham United - Wembley Stadium

    West Ham United captain Kevin Nolan lifts the Championship Play-Off after the final whistle

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